Real Salt Lake found itself wondering how Saturday night's game against FC Dallas turned into a dog fight in the last 30 minutes? The first 60 were less than exciting. Add to that the expectation for what should have been an easy win with Dallas' much injury and suspension depleted roster and it had everyone scratching their heads. But there they were, tied 2-2 in the 92nd minute when Nat Borchers came up huge with a goal that helped Real avoid a second home loss this season and a difficult hill to climb to stay atop the West with San Jose and Seattle showing no lack of momentum of their own.
Real Salt Lake | | FC Dallas
3 Goals 2
16 Attempts on Goal 12
8 Shots on Target 5
5 Shots off Target 7
3 Blocked Shots 0
5 Corner Kicks 2
14 Fouls 9
10 Open Play Crosses 15
0 Offsides 2
2 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
44 Duels Won 47
48% Duels Won % 51%
389 Total Pass 299
70% Passing Accuracy % 69%
56.1% Possession 43.9%
Kyle Reynish may have the height advantage over Nick Rimando, but he still has much to learn about field vision and distribution. Too often his goal kicks or punts went astray, either out of bounds or right to a Dallas player. He made up for his poor distribution when he was tested a handful of times in the heart of the second half by Dallas' Jacobsen and Jackson who both sent strong, low shots at Reynish that both required skillful saves. Dallas' Matt Hedges found way to score on Reynish though in the 75th minute, when he skipped the ball right at a retreating Kyle Reynish who blocked it but had fallen too far back into the goal to keep it from breaking the plane first. He deserved less consideration with Dallas second goal in the 85th minute when Blas Peresz sent a ball right at Reynish that should have been an easy catch but Reynish elected to punch it out and didn't make full contact so that the ball ricocheted into the goal.
Terukazu Tanaka showed excellent positioning and a peskiness not often seen out of Chris Wingert. Saturday's performance was very promising, especially when you consider he had no trouble keeping up with an shutting down Dallas speedster Bryan Leyva. His 35 yard cross in the 59th minute was a thing of beauty and was rewarded with an excellent header by Saborio to put Real up 1-0.
Jamison Olave was rock steady defensively but a couple of offensive through balls turned out to be less than perfect. His best opportunity to a streaking Ned Grabavoy in the first half went right to a Dallas defender who was so far out of the play he seemed surprised when the ball came his way. He settled back into his role as bruiser in the second half and helped Real finish with the win when Dallas desperately threw men forward to attempt to hold on to a tie before game's end.
Nat Borchers by far the smartest defender on the field, turned out to be one of the strongest too. Winning a header in the 74th minute, he snapped the ball at goal to fly over the crossbar. But his smartest moment came when in the 93rd minute he took advantage of the mayhem in the box caused by a Ned Grabavoy rush on a 50/50 ball, and found an undefended spot where he knocked a cool-as-a-cucumber shot into the upper right 90 that makes him my Man of the Match.
Man of the Match
Tony Beltran was busy Saturday night. His left side seemed to be the point of attack for many of Dallas forays into Real territory. He was also called upon to push forward more than usual given the fact that Dallas tied the game up late in the second half. He was effective, especially in the build up that led to Nat Borchers game winning 3rd goal in stoppage time.
Ned Grabavoy had a gift assist laid right at his feet by Luis Gil in he 12th minute but shot it point blank at Kevin Hartman who was able to punch it harmlessly away. But he made up with the misstep by pouring his heart out onto the field all night, putting a cap on it in the 92nd minute when his rush on the ball inside the box sent the ball to a waiting Nat Borchers who cooly put the ball in to the upper right 90 for the game winner.
Yordany Alvarez played a strong first half, but sometimes was too eager in his challenges, earning a yellow card, 37th minute for an overeager challenge that might not have been card worth were it not for an earlier one that probably was. His second half was more subdued, but that turned out to be enough as he played a critical role in helping to break the Dallas midfield blockade by playing a solid distribution role to the wings from his deep position in Real's 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation.
Luis Gil shook his defender in the 12th minute to get a perfect almost assist off to Ned Grabavoy who had plenty of time for a shot but put it on Kevin Hartman's gloves for a punch-out. His shake and bake moves in the 45th minute nearly won Luis a goal scoring opportunity of his own when he sent a rocket just wide and left from 20 yards out. His distribution was rock solid and gave Real fans much to look forward to from this young and coming dynamo.
Will Johnson plays like he's six inches taller and 80 lbs heavier than he is. Impetuous. Like a Mack truck in the body of a Toyota. His defense was his strength, but his shot in the 46th minute had everything you like from outside the 18 - pace, movement and location. Unfortunately Kevin Hartman is one of the best goalies in Major League Soccer at shutting down angles and this was one of those times.
Alvaro Saborio showed his strength with his back to the goal, holding up a number of balls that were turned out to the wings for some terrific crosses into the box, including the one that made its way out for a beautiful cross by Terakazu Tanaka in the 59th minute that found Saborio perfectly placed before the goal to deflect it past Kevin Hartman for the games first goal. His second goal carried some controversy, not that there was any question it was a goal, but there was some question as to whether it was deflected into the goal by Dallas' goal scorer, Matt Hedges or a legitimate shot on goal by Sabo - Either way, his knack for being in the right place at the right time payed off.
Fabian Espindola can be so nimble on the field, you wonder how he does some of the things he does, heel flicking the ball into the air from behind his back to his outstretched toe. And it happens all the time. But what he makes up for in ball skills and peskiness, he lacks sometimes in speed and the ability to play off his right foot. This came back to bite him in the 18th minute when Yordany Alvarez placed a perfect clearance to Fabi streaking down the middle but with two of the fastest defenders in MLS closing on him, he resorted to his left foot when he should have gone right and his weak shot went far right of the goal.
Jonny Steele subbed on for Luis Gil to close out the second half where he played strong defense and did an adequate job quarterbacking the offense from the central midfield position through the end of the game.
Sebastian Velasquez was subbed onto the field in the 93rd minute but did not play enough to earn a grade.