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Streaking RSL dismantle the Wizards for fifth straight win

Posted on 31 May 2010 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake extended their win streak Saturday to a franchise-best five games after dispatching the Kansas City Wizards 4-1 in a hotly contested affair. While RSL jumped off to an early lead after a pair of goals by Fabian Espíndola and Álvaro Saborío, the Wizards were able to capitalize on RSL’s occasional sloppy play to pull a goal back just before half. Inspired by 15,588 raucous fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL controlled the second half and finished the match off late thanks to a Davy Arnaud ejection and goals from Robbie Russell and Ned Grabavoy.

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Action from the match ©Julie Harper/ASN

The match had a bright and confident feel for the home side early as RSL dominated much of the play. Espíndola and Saborío continued to nurture their growing partnership up top for RSL while combining with midfield maestro Javier Morales for a number of attacking runs in the first 20 minutes.

“I think that they have a good relationship,” noted coach Jason Kreis after the match. “I think they both look for each other and run off each other very well, and when you include Javier [Morales] in that triangle you see some really nice combination from those three players.”

While the Wizards defense did a decent job managing the pressure early on, RSL finally earned a breakthrough in the 31st minute when midfielder Andy Williams found himself open with yards of space in front of goal. Rather than taking the shot on goal, Williams drew three defenders to him before laying off to a wide-open Espíndola for a low, driven shot across keeper Jimmy Nielsen for the opening goal.

Espíndola was in fine form all evening, torching the Wizards backline while earning a number of chances for the home side. This effort was again repaid just minutes after the opening tally when Espíndola was sprung open on the left wing by Morales for an uncontested run at goal. Rather than launch a cross with his preferred left foot, Espíndola cut the ball into the middle a tried to chip Nielsen with his right foot. Though Nielsen was able to tip the ball, he wasn’t able to get complete control and spilled the ball behind him for Saborío to body home for his team-leading fifth goal.

While it seemed the match was trending towards a blowout, the Wizards produced a moment of magic just before half when Arnaud surprised a needlessly casual Nat Borchers right in front of goal for an interception. His speed and momentum paid off, as he was able to quickly place a nice pass across goal for Josh Wolff to slot home. Though the Wizards deserved the goal thanks to their energy and fight, one had to feel they didn’t deserve to be in the match at half as RSL were consistently the more organized and better team.

The second half played much like the beginning of the match, with RSL creating numerous chances and drawing repeated fouls against the Wizards. Arnaud, in particular, appeared furious at one of the linesman throughout the second half, screaming and arguing even when calls went the Wizards way. This tension eventually came to a head in the 82nd minute when Arnaud verbally challenged the referee after defender Matt Besler was called for a foul on Morales. Having earned a first caution just minutes earlier, Arnaud was shown his second yellow for dissent and was given an early trip to the showers.

RSL were able to easily close out the match after Arnaud’s ejection. Morales nearly scored on the ensuing free kick for the foul on Besler, but Nielsen was up to the task with a stunning foot save. Unfortunately for the Wizards, Russell was in position to slam the ball home after Nielsen’s save and the match seemed well out of reach for an undermanned Wizards side. The final nail in the coffin came in added time when Grabavoy intercepted a horrible back pass from substitute Graham Zusi to blow by Besler for beautiful, calm goal to the right of Nielsen. It was the first goal for both Russell and Grabavoy in a RSL kit, bringing the total number of players who have scored for RSL this season to a shocking 11 different players.

The next 10 days yield a rollercoaster ride for RSL, who will face D.C. United two times in four days and close out their pre World Cup schedule with a rematch against league leaders LA Galaxy. Their trip to Washington D.C. this week brings particular intrigue with it as Wednesday’s match is apart of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play, followed by a trip to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama on Friday before meeting United again on Saturday for league action.

While RSL have built a deep squad this season to lesson the grind of MLS and Champion’s League play, they currently find themselves in a bind with Williams and defender Chris Wingert picking up hamstring injuries Saturday. These injuries coupled with the absence of midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Nelson González make the next week intriguing from a personnel standpoint for Kreis and RSL. RSL can only hope that they can overcome these interruptions and continue their exciting team play and stunning offensive production en route to an even longer win streak.

MATCH FACTS
REAL SALT LAKE (6-3-1, 19 pts.) v. KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (2-5-2, 8 pts.)
DATE: Saturday, May 29, 2010 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola 3 (Andy Williams 3) 31
RSL — Alvaro Saborío 5 (unassisted) 34
KC — Josh Wolff 1 (Davy Arnaud 1) 42
RSL — Robbie Russell 1 (unassisted) 84
RSL — Ned Grabavoy 1 (unassisted) 92+

Misconduct Summary:
KC — Matt Besler (caution; Tactical Foul) 27
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Tactical Foul) 29
KC — Kei Kamara (caution; Tactical Foul) 32
KC — Jimmy Conrad (caution; Tactical Foul) 73
KC — Davy Arnaud (caution; Tactical Foul) 82
KC — Davy Arnaud (ejection; Second Caution) 82

Lineups:
Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert (Robbie Russell 46), Andy Williams (Ned Grabavoy 46), Javier Morales, Jean Alexandre, Will Johnson, Álvaro Saborío, Fabian Espíndola (Pablo Campos 88).

Statistics: SHOTS: 12 (Espíndola 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Espíndola, Saborío 2); SAVES: 2 (Rimando 2); FOULS: 11 (Alexandre 3); CORNERS: 2 (Morales 2); OFFSIDES: 5 (Saborío 3)

Kansas City Wizards — Jimmy Nielsen, Jonathan Leathers (Chance Myers 46), Jimmy Conrad, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington, Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Josh Wolff (Graham Zusi 77), Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, Ryan Smith.

Statistics: SHOTS: 6 (Bunbury, Kamara 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 3 (Nielsen 3); FOULS: 14 (Arnaud 8); CORNERS: 4 (Arnaud, Smith 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Kamara 1)

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: Eric Boria; Paul Scott
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-58-degrees / Attendance: 15,588

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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