SANDY — Turns out that Real Salt Lake can score six goals when it’s 11-on-11 too.
A week after punishing nine-man Colorado with six goals, RSL hung the same number on an abysmal LA Galaxy defense on Saturday night in a 6-2 thrashing at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Four goals came in the second half as the RioT was rocking like it hasn’t in years. The six goals is the most RSL has scored at home since a win over New England back on July 4, 2009.
Many of those fans came to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic potentially score the 500th goal of his career, but instead they witnessed RSL’s clinical night in front of goal that included a Damir Kreilach hat trick.
“I’m very, very happy about that, but I’m much more happy about three points because in the end we deserve to win and we played unbelievably good,” said Kreilach, who now leads the team with 10 goals.
The win helped RSL remain in fourth place in the West on 44 points and extended the club’s home unbeaten streak to 13 straight (10-0-3).
“They’ve done it all year but in spurts. But tonight was 90 minutes of them literally executing what we spoke about (in the game plan),” said RSL coach Mike Petke.
The fireworks got started just 37 seconds into the match as Jonathan dos Santos hit a powerful close-range volley on a cross from Ashley Cole through the hands of Nick Rimando for the 1-0 lead. It was the fastest goal conceded all season for Real Salt Lake.
Despite the 1-0 lead, LA continued to play high pressure to deny RSL from building the attack slowly out of the back. The visitors got caught on a couple of occasions with too many players on one side of the field in the opening 12 minutes, and, in the 14th minute, they paid for the aggressive approach.
Sunday Stephen slipped out of Galaxy pressure near the sideline and played a simple ball to an unmarked Joao Plata in the middle of the field. Plata sprinted into the cavernous space in front of him and then played a square ball to Albert Rusnak sitting in front of the Galaxy backline.
Rusnak spun immediately out of Michael Ciani’s attempt to win the ball and hit a first-time shot just from outside the box that slipped just inside the post to level the score 1-1.
The first half settled down after the wild opening 15 minutes, with RSL dictating the flow and outshooting the Galaxy 12-2 in the opening half.
In the third minute of first half stoppage time, Kreilach doubled the advantage for the home side on a great bit of individual skill.
After slipping in behind Ciani on a Brooks Lennon over-the-top pass, Kreilach chested the ball down, chipped the ball up and over LA’s charging keeper David Bingham and then calmly headed it into the empty net for the 2-1 lead.
“That goal before the half was huge. We thought maybe other than the first minute of the half we controlled the first half, and to get the goal to go up which we thought we deserved was big time, gave us confidence to start the second half,” said defender Nick Besler.
A few minutes prior to Kreilach’s finish, Nick Rimando made a great save on Ibrahimovic, who came into the game with 499 career goals for club and country.
Just 20 seconds into the second half Ibrahimovic was again denied No. 500 — this time by the post on a close-range header.
He never did get that magic goal, which defender Justen Glad acknowledged was motivation coming into the match.
“The team has been motivated all week not only to shut out Zlatan but for the playoff push. That was a huge win for us tonight and I couldn’t be happier,” said Glad.
Instead of a level score, two minutes later Real Salt Lake pushed the lead to 3-1 on Jefferson Savarino goal that took a wild deflected off Ciani. It added to the already miserable night defensively for the Galaxy center back.
In the 60th minute, RSL’s lead ballooned to 4-1 as Kreilach scored again on a simple finish on a cross from Rusnak. Rusnak’s initial shot was saved by Bingham, but he quickly won the ball back and slipped it to Kreilach.1 comment on this story
RSL wasn’t done. Even though Romain Alessandrini temporarily cut the deficit to 4-2 on a deflected shot off Kyle Beckerman in the 63rd minute, the home side tacked on two more goals three minutes apart in the 68th and 71st minute.
The first was from Rusnak on a wicked half volley from the top of the box, and the second was from Kreilach who completed his hat trick after another simple finish on a Savarino cross.
It’s the first time in MLS history a team has scored six goals in back-to-back games.
“The last two games more than anything we’ve just capitalized on the chances we’ve created, and tonight we were extremely clinical,” said Besler.