Damir Kreilach scores a game-winner in Real Salt Lake’s season-opener

RSL is unbeaten in its last 14 openers — the longest streak of its kind in MLS history.

Real Salt Lake's Justen Glad, middle, is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Rich Lam/The Canadian Press via AP)

Vancouver, British Columbia • Damir Kreilach scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 win for Real Salt Lake over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Real Salt Lake is unbeaten (7-0-7) in its last 14 openers — the longest streak of its kind in MLS history — despite 13 of those games coming on the road. FC Dallas, which also went into Saturday as winners of 13 straight on opening day, lost to Minnesota.

“I think we had a pretty nervous start to the game on both sides of the ball,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “I think there was a lot of doubt in every pass. ... I think in the second half we trusted in the game plan, we trusted in each other and the guys executed and played a wonderful second half.”

Kreilach’s game-winner came in the 73rd minute to put RSL up 2-1. Jefferson Savarino assisted the goal.

The goal was significant for Kreilach, RSL’s captain, who missed most of last season with a back injury.

“It wasn’t easy during these 10 months being injured but at the end of the day that’s part of the business,” Kreilach said.

RSL also got one goal from Justen Glad.

“We showed who we are in the second half we showed our DNA,” Kreilach said.

Javain Brown scored for the Whitecaps. The 23-year-old defender in his third MLS season went into the game with one goal in 53 career appearances.

The Whitecaps outshot RSL 18-11, with each team recording seven shots on goal.

Zac MacMath saved six shots for RSL. Yohei Takaoka had five saves in his debut for the Whitecaps.

“I think overall it was a great win tonight,” Kreilach said. “It’s not easy to play away and get three points.”