SANDY— When Real Salt Lake signed Khari Stephenson this offseason, there were probably only a select few that truly knew what the Jamaican midfielder was capable of.
Those brave enough to endure 120 minutes of last Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match were rewarded when Stephenson delivered a shot for the ages from distance, effectively securing the RSL third round victory.
The fans at Saturday's bout against bitter rivals Los Angeles were treated to much of the same, when Stephenson beat Galaxy goalkeeper Brain Rowe with a wicked shot near post.
"It's always good to get goals, and it's even better when the team scores. That's always a positive," said Stephenson. "If they give me chances to shoot, then I'm going to shoot. All the guys on the team are confident in my shot, so when they say 'shoot Khari' I'm going to shoot."
It was Stephenson's first MLS goal for the Claret-and-Cobalt, and became the 10th player to score in league play for RSL.
"I've been working on it," said Stephenson.
The midfielder is no stranger to the rivalry that comes with Los Angeles.
Formerly a member of San Jose, Stephenson relished in the West Coast rivalry and has brought that same mentality into the bitterness between these two clubs.
"Same old, same old. It's a Western Conference rivalry, and L.A. has been one of the better teams over the years," said Stephenson. "We need to beat the better teams to bring on more, and that's what we've been doing recently. So, we have to just continue to keep it going."
MORALES STINGS L.A.: For a guy who logged 300 minutes for RSL last week, Javier Morales was at his best yet again Saturday night.
Morales, who has now compiled five goals and seven assists in 12 games versus the Galaxy, was the cog in the wheel that kept the RSL attack alive.
"I think it was a tough win for us," said Morales. "Especially because they came here and sat back."
Morales actions were rewarded in the closing minutes of the game, when the Argentine found Olmes Garica twice for a pair of assists that would bury the Galaxy.
"They're one of the best teams. They're the reigning champions," Morales said. "We wanted revenge, and we got it 3-1."
RSL head coach Jason Kreis offered praise to Morales and also addressed the playmaker's return to 100 percent.
"He's a guy that we've had a really strong feeling about his fitness level, meaning when he's really, really fit is when he's at his absolute best," said Kreis. "There's just no other way to do that than to play 90 minutes, and I think towards the end of the game he was making some really hard runs to put pressure on the opposing defenders."
Those helpers were Morales' fifth and sixth assist of the season for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
"I'm happy because I think the forwards put in a good effort today, and it gave me the opportunity to make two assists," said Morales.