SANDY — While Real Salt Lake will never consider giving the three points back, its performance against Major League Soccer newcomer Montreal on Wednesday night was about as ugly as a positive result can be.
“You have games like this sometimes,” Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. “What’s the most important is that we got three points.”
Thanks to a 13th minute kick from the spot by Paulo Jr., RSL equaled the best five-match start in franchise history, dispatching the scrappy Impact 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Despite the early goal, Real was noticeably off for much of the night, leaving manager Jason Kreis “a little displeased” with the match.
“I think it would be hypocritical of me to come in here and say I’m really pleased,” Kreis said. “This game we’ve got some problems, but most of that comes to what we did with the ball. We gave it away so cheaply and then they were right at us.”
While RSL’s effort and tactics clearly outclassed the league’s new kid on the block, Salt Lake struggled at inopportune times with lapses of concentrations, bad touches and giveaways.
“It’s a result,” said midfielder Will Johnson, who made his first start of the season for Real. “We had chances. We just didn’t put them away.”
Johnson earned the spot kick for the Utah side when he tried to head a cross from Jonny Steele deep in the left corner. Johnson’s header, however, was blocked deep in the box by the arm of Impact forward and Salt Lake City native Justin Braun, leading referee Ricardo Salazar to point to the spot. Replays showed it a correct call.
“I think tactically in the first half we didn’t find the spaces to exploit that we talk about all the time when teams play with five midfielders against us,” Kreis said. “I didn’t think our balance in the midfield was good, which meant we didn’t have options when we had the ball. We tried to squeeze the ball into players who were already marked.”
Real open the second half very strongly, and with a bounce here or there, would’ve doubled or triple the end result.
• RSL NOTES: The night wasn’t a total win for RSL, which will likely be without the services of midfielder Ned Grabavoy for a while. Grabavoy suffered a blow to his ribs not long after entering as a 63 minute substitute, and despite gutting out the remainder of the match because Real had no substitutions left. He was taken to a local hospital for evaluation following the match, but Kreis said that he thinks Grabavoy has a broken rib.
Midfielder Javier Morales, who entered at the same time, also suffered an injury in the waning moments of the match and left during stoppage time, leaving RSL with just 10 players to hold off the hard-charging Impact.