SANDY — Jean Alexandre's first career start at forward last weekend was average at best.
His second start on Saturday night was a gigantic improvement.
A very good striker in college, Alexandre scored his first career MLS goal in the first half and then added an assist in the second half during Real Salt Lake's trouncing of Vancouver.
Alexandre said he's been dreaming of scoring his first goal for years, but it's usually a scrappy goal that bounces off his head when he does. Saturday's curling right-footed shot around Vancouver keeper Joe Cannon was anything but ugly.
"It was actually a decent goal so I'm happy for that," said Alexandre.
Getting production up top from Alexandre, who has served as Kyle Beckerman's back-up at holding midfield the last three years, is a huge bonus for Real Salt Lake as it forges ahead with a depleted front line.
RSL coach Jason Kreis praised Alexandre for being much more responsible with his possession against Vancouver, an area he struggled with in last week's loss to Seattle.
There's still plenty for him to improve in a position he's unaccustomed to playing.
"I need a lot more work, especially my movement. I've got to get use to making runs instead of just shuffling back and forth for the ball like I'm playing center mid," said Alexandre.
TAKING THE CORNERS: Real Salt Lake seems to have settled on its new corner kick taker without the services of Javier Morales.
A week after four different players took their turn at taking the set piece, Nelson Gonzalez took them exclusively on Saturday during his 67 minutes on the field.
RSL failed to score on any of Gonzalez's left-footed crosses, but his service into the box was much more dangerous than in previous weeks.
HALLELUJAH: Fabian Espindola netted his first goal since April 13 with a clinical breakaway finish in the 78th minute on Saturday.
Espindola has done so many positive things for RSL this season, Kreis said it was great to see the striker rewarded with his first goal in over a month.
After the match, Espindola said the goal was a bit of a relief, "but it's only two goals in the league this year, not so good. It's OK just for now."
LATE SCRATCH: Defender Robbie Russell wasn't in RSL's 18-man game day roster on Saturday because of a groin strain he picked up in training on Friday.
RSL's roster was already depleted enough, and without Russell it only occupied six of its seven available slots on the bench.2 comments on this story
Kreis said Russell seemed fine when he left training on Friday, and he isn't sure how long the injury will keep the defender out.
With two games next week, he'll be hoping for a quick recovery.
MLS DEBUT: Forward Artur Aghasyan, the cousin of Yura Movsisyan who was signed last week, made his MLS debut on Saturday when he replaced Collen Warner in the 87th minute.
The brief appearance could very easily become an extended one next week as RSL his the road for a pair games at Columbus and Philadelphia.