Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SANDY — Real Salt Lake striker Fabian Espindola ended a month and a half of frustration on Saturday night by scoring the all important insurance goal in the 78th minute of a 2-0 victory over Vancouver.
The goal could be a huge boost of confidence for Espindola as RSL hits the road for a pair of games this week.
No player wears his emotions on his sleeve quite like Espindola, and no player beat himself up more about the Champions League loss than Espindola. Mentally he was such a mess after the Monterrey loss, Kreis didn't even let him travel with the team to Portland a few days later.
The heartache only got worse a week later as Argentine teammate, and good friend, Javier Morales broke his ankle on a gruesome tackle against Chivas USA. Over the next two weeks, Espindola couldn't even channel his frustration onto the pitch either as he was dealing with a hamstring strain of his own.
Espindola is healthy again, and RSL coach Jason Kreis said it was great to see him rewarded with a goal against Vancouver.
"He's been really good spirited lately. He's enjoying the challenge a little bit," said Kreis.
After the match, Espindola surprisingly downplayed what the goal could do for his confidence and attitude moving forward. He said, "it's good when you score to help the team," but he said he's still frustrated that he's only score two goals in six league games this year.
Combined with his six Champions League starts, Espindola's tally is three goals in 12 games in 2011.
It's not quite the production that was expected after a fantastic preseason, and mentally that seems to have taken its toll on Espindola.
RSL teammate Nat Borchers believes Saturday's goal could help him shake things off.
"It's important for anybody who's a striker and who takes a lot of chances to get the goal. It's important to finally get the monkey off your back and score. I expect them to come a lot more frequently now," said Borchers. "He was a terror for those backs of Vancouver, and we expect them to do that every night."
Even though the goals haven't come in bunches, Kreis has repeatedly praised Espindola's relentless work rate, saying it's just as important as putting the ball in the back of the net.
Right now, though, with his team dealing with a depleted roster, RSL desperately needs Espindola to work hard and score goals.
Kreis believes Espindola's up to the challenge.
"In this situation is probably the first time he's been with us he kind of knows he's going to play, and I think he's enjoyed that. The training sessions he's working extremely hard, the games he's working extremely hard. All things are moving forward," he said.
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