FRISCO, Texas — The season of firsts continued Saturday night for Real Salt Lake. Exactly two weeks after earning the franchise's first win in Canada, RSL won its first game in Texas.
And Real Salt Lake extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games with plenty of help from the third keeper on its roster.
Making his MLS debut, Jeff Attinella entered during the 50th minute and made three saves to help preserve a 3-0 victory over an FC Dallas team that had not lost at FC Dallas Stadium this season.
"It was an important result against a very good team, in their stadium," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said.
"Right now we're in first place and they're in second. I think that's where the importance lies, not trying to get a first win here or there. That stuff is all secondary."
RSL (11-5-4) entered the contest 0-18-3 in the Lone Star State and 0-11-2 against Dallas. The victory puts RSL six points ahead of FC Dallas (8-5-7) and four points in front of the Galaxy in the Western Conference standings.
"It's good because I've never won a game here," Kreis said. "Even when I was playing we'd come back and we usually would get beaten. It's been the same way since I've been coaching. It feels good."
A 96-degree evening started out rough for a visiting RSL team that was outshot 13-6 in the first half. Dallas midfielder Fabian Castillo was doing a good job of making things difficult for the RSL defense and starting keeper Josh Saunders. But Saunders and company made the necessary stops until an FC Dallas free kick was blocked and quickly turned into a four-on-three attack during the 39th minute.
Midfielder Javier Morales then displayed the highlight of the game, putting a shot through defender Zach Loyd's legs and into the far right corner of the net for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Although Saunders made it through the first half, he injured his left knee trying to break up a ball near the top of the box. He started the second half with RSL up 1-0 but fell to the ground after attempting a goal kick during the 49th minute. It was revealed after the game that Saunders, who finished with three saves, has an LCL sprain in his left knee.
"He's in a lot of pain," Kreis said. "So I would say it doesn't look too good."
Real Salt Lake took a two-goal lead on a Ned Grabavoy blast from the center of the box that snuck inside the top right corner during the 79th minute. Olmes Garcia added the final score in the 90th minute on another shot from the center of the box that made its way inside the right corner. Morales assisted on both goals.
Attinella joked after the game that he didn't feel much pressure when he entered because he figured his teammates were thinking he wasn't going to perform well. But the 24-year-old held his own, making his first save during the 64th minute with a sliding grab.
The former South Florida keeper said that stop calmed his nerves. Attinella then mentioned how he allowed a goal on the first collegiate shot he saw.
So, how did it feel to make a league debut early in the second half of a 1-0 game?
"I kind of enjoyed it better that way because I had the first half to watch and kind of see what was going on,"?Attinella said. "I feel like in that situation there's no pressure on me.
"You don't have too much time to think about things."?
Attinella, who finished with three saves, could be seeing even more playing time if Saunders is unable to return. "I really haven't even thought about that, to be honest with you," Attinella said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around what just happened."
Real Salt Lake was without its usual starting keeper Nick Rimando. Rimando, who has started 17 games this season, Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Alvaro Saborio did not make the trip to Texas because of international competition.
Real Salt Lake doesn't play again until next Saturday, an 8 p.m. start against Sporting KC at Rio Tinto Stadium.
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