Luis Gil's hamstring injury continues to hamper his return to the 18, but with RSL's depth at midfielder, there's no need to hurry his recuperation. Luke Mullholland filled in once again for the missing 21-year-old. Kyle Beckerman (captain), Javier Morales and last week's game winner, Ned Grabavoy, also remain in the starting lineup.
Luke Mullholland earned his second assist of the season when he dummied a Chris Wingert ball through to Joao Plata in the second minute for the game's first goal.
Javier Morales was brilliant in the final third Saturday, picking the Vancouver midfield and defense apart on numerous occasions, creating chances and disrupting any flow they tried to build out of the backfield.
Kyle Beckerman was supremely calm holding off the Vancouver midfield much of the night while finding opportunities to get forward into the attack several times, including a 22nd minute curling three-toe shot that sailed centimeters wide of his upper far post.
Ned Grabavoy continued his romp of tremendous play Saturday night, earning an assist in the 9th minute when he calmly sent a centered ball out of traffic at the top of the 18 to a waiting Alvaro Saborio, who curled a beauty into the net.
Sebastian Velasquez (Sub ’63) didn't bring quite the level of attacking zip to the game as the player he replaced when subbed on, but he was solid. His decisions continue to improve, as does his patience.
John Stertzer (Sub ’89) made his MLS debut Saturday night, subbing in for stoppage time minutes in place of Javier Morales.
Joao Plata returned to the starting lineup Saturday night beside Alvaro Saborio. Plata started right where he left off when he last started for the boys in Claret and Cobalt with a goal in the second minute reminiscent of Ned Grabavoy's winner last week.
Alvaro Saborio scored the game's second goal in the 9th minute when he was posted on the right side of the box but played off a ball through the middle of the box where Ned Grabavoy collected it and sent it right back to an open Saborio, who first-timed a beautiful curling ball into the far-post upper 90. He pinged another near goal off the crossbar in the 79th minute off a gorgeous Javier Morales free kick. Saborio put too much foot on the ball in the 94th minute in the midfield, ending up giving it away while Vancouver's Sebastian Fernandez received it only second later, and seconds before the final whistle, blasting a rocket from 30 yards out to give Vancouver the tie.
Joao Plata had barely taken a step on the field when Chris Wingert sent a forward ball to Luke Mullholland, who dummied the ball through to Plata at the top of the 18, who took an unusual touch wide, but it threw his defender off enough for Plata to swing around him and send a left-footed ball to the far post, beating Vancouver ’keeper David Ousted in the second minute.
Olmes Garcia (Sub ’74) came on in place of Joao Plata in his first game as a starter since going out with a hamstring injury in the home opener just as it was clear Plata was losing some steam. Garcia kept things interesting not only with his fresh legs, but with some very good passing all along the box.
Chris Higbee is a former general manager of DeseretNews.com who continues to write about Real Salt Lake.
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