SANDY — Once Real Salt Lake got on the board, they made the lead stick.
Unlike their previous two contests, in which they faced two-goal deficits and ultimately lost by that margin, RSL fashioned its own 2-0 lead.
In the end, Real added to that advantage, and shut out the New York Red Bulls, 3-0, on Saturday night in front of 19,081 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"We knew we had to come out with some energy tonight," defender Nat Borchers said. "The message from (Kreis) was that we really needed to come out with a good response, and we did."
Borchers was part of a stout back line for Real (10-5-6, 36 points) that corralled New York all night, but he was also the owner of his team's first score.
On a corner kick by RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams tried to flip the ball over New York goalkeeper Frank Rost, who barely got a hand on it.
The ensuing corner by Beckerman squarely found the head of Borchers, who put the ball in the net for RSL's first goal in its last 200 minutes of play.
"So many of our players do certain things extremely well, and they need to stay within themselves," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I think that in the last couple of games we got away from that. So it was nice to see a lot of guys perform well."
Undoubtedly, one of those players Kreis was referring to was 17-year-old midfielder Luis Gil.
Not content with riding out the final minutes of the first half, Real continued to press, and it paid off in the 44th minute. Beckerman made a short pass to Gil, who, after a quick touch, made a speedy turn and blasted it from just outside the 18-yard box for his first Major League Soccer goal.
"I got a good first touch," Gil said, describing the goal. "I was just thinking that I couldn't let this one go. I was thinking, 'get it on target.' "
Halftime came directly after that, and Real's last-second effort proved to deflate the already mostly-punchless Red Bulls (6-6-12, 30 points) side.
The quick start was crucial for RSL, who was able to build on that momentum, and not have to try to come from behind, as they have the last couple of games.
"We didn't want to get ourselves in a really bad spot, a big hole to try to climb out of," Kreis said.
New York ended the game with only a single shot on goal (on seven attempts), compared to seven shots on goal (10 attempts) for RSL. Defender Chris Wingert credited most of that to his team accomplishing what they set out to do.
"They (New York) certainly gave us some respect, but we executed really well," Wingert said.
In the 76th minute, New York's Roy Miller was called for a hand ball foul on an RSL corner kick. Alvaro Saborio buried the penalty kick into the right side of the net past a diving Bouna Coundoul, who had replaced starter Frank Rost. Rost came out of the game after halftime with a strained right quadriceps.
Saborio's goal was his sixth of the season, tying him with Fabian Espindola for the team lead.3 comments on this story
New York's best chance for a goal came late when Juan Agudelo directed a header off a corner kick by Joel Lindpere that went a little wide.
Real nearly added a fourth goal in the 88th minute when Arturo Alvarez, streaking down the left side, failed to see an open Saborio right in the middle of the box, but instead took a shot that wasn't close.
After the positive result, Wingert is confident that RSL can keep its momentum going.
"We'll just keep trying to improve, and implement our game plan," he said. "We're a tough team to beat, no matter where we play."