Real Salt Lake notebook: Team comes up with late-game goal again against Rapids

Published: Thursday, April 14 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates his winning goal against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates his winning goal against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SANDY — It can't be a coincidence that Real Salt Lake keeps scoring all these late goals against Colorado, can it?

It's one thing to give up a stoppage time goal occasionally, but to have it happen in three straight games against your biggest rival. There's gotta be a little more to it than luck.

During the postgame press conference, Jason Kreis alluded to the fact that his team's focus might be a factor. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman tends to agree.

"We try not to lose focus at all and pay attention to the little details.. That could be something," Beckerman said. "We try and stay switched on for the entire game. We know that little things like throw-ins and free kicks can decide games sometimes."

That's certainly been the case against Colorado. In five of the last seven meetings against the Rapids, a game-tying or game-winning goal has been scored in the 88th minute or later, and RSL has scored four of those five goals.

"I think a lot of it comes down to being at their end of the field, putting pressure on them and creating chances. When you do that, you're chances of scoring go up extremely high," said defender Nat Borchers.

It took a brief mental lapse by Brian Mullan, whose foul on Jamison Olave set up the decisive free kick, for the events to unfold the way they did.

Borchers acknowledged that you just can't afford to give up those types of scoring chances late in the game.

"Especially against a team like us, we're very good with the set pieces. Obviously Javier is one of the most dangerous free-kick takers in the league," said Borchers.

When these teams meet again in October in Colorado, you can bet the Rapids will try to remain focused beyond 90 minutes for a change against Real Salt Lake.

DATE CHANGE: To accommodate Real Salt Lake in its quest to win the CONCACAF Champions League, the league moved its April 23 home game against Philadelphia to Sept. 3.

Now instead of trying to squeeze a game in between the first leg in Monterrey, Mexico, on April 20 and the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 27, RSL will have a full week to prepare.

The league is clearly throwing its support toward RSL in the CCL in more ways than just words.

PAINFUL BEGINNING: Just eight minutes into Wednesday's match RSL midfielder Javier Morales laid in a heap at the top of the box clutching his left foot after getting stepped on.

There was some real concern about whether he'd be able to continue.

He hobbled around for a few minutes before shrugging off the pain, but the injury definitely had a negative impact on the fluidity of RSL's attack.

"It really took him a while to get back into things and it definitely disrupted our flow at that point of the match," said Kreis.

ANOTHER SHUTOUT: Coming off a season in which it set a league record for fewest goals allowed in a season with 20, Real Salt Lake has picked up right where it left off.

Wednesday's shutout of Colorado was the club's third of the season, and it helped goalkeeper Nick Rimando move into a second-place tie with Zach Thornton in league history with 76 career shutouts.

"We're clicking right now," said defender Tony Beltran. "We"re doing so because we've been together for three years now the five of us that rotate back there, and even past that with (Chris) Schuler and Rauwshan (McKenzie). Everyone is on the same page."

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