Real rolls over Rapids

Apr 7 2012 - 10:59pm


SANDY - There would be no last-gasp theater needed for Real Salt Lake this time.

The home side took control of the opening match of its 2012 Rocky Mountain Cup series with rival Colorado just 20 minutes in and never relented, dropping the Rapids 2-0 on a brisk spring evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The result allowed Real to match its franchise-best 5-1-0 start from a season ago, and was the team's third clean sheet in four matches at home this season.

Saturday's result was a marked departure from a series that has seen so many thrilling finishes in recent years.

Instead RSL staked out a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute on Tony Beltran's brilliant service inside to Alvaro Saborio, who calmed tapped home a 1-on-1 shot against Colorado netminder Matt Pickens.

That tally would stand up as the first half scoreline as the home side dominated possession by nearly a 2-1 advantage.

"I'm pleased with the scoreline, but even more than that, I'm pleased with our team effort," Real Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis said. "I think everyone in the locker room was disappointed (after the 1-0 result vs. Montreal on Wednesday) and wanted to do better."

And doing better was something the home side did from start to finish.

Real blanked Colorado for the third straight match and extended its run of unbeaten form against its Rocky Mountain rivals to seven straight matches.

"I think we came out hard at the start," said midfielder Sebastian Velasquez. "Every match is different; they each bring their own type of energy."

Velasquez went 59 minutes before checking out, getting his first taste of the Salt Lake-Colorado rivalry, in front of a crowd of 16,870.

Striker Fabian Espindola doubled up the Lions advantage in the 57th minute when he sliced through a pair of Rapids defenders and Pickens to tap home a shot.

The sequence started near midfield with Beltran completing a 15-yard pass to Luis Gil, with Gil chipping the ball high to Espindola near the top of the box. Replays showed the ball come off the field and strike Espindola's arm, but no whistle was forthcoming and the Argentine international scored his 29th career regular season Major League Soccer goal, tying him with former forward Robbie Findley for the top spot on the franchise's career charts.

Colorado did actually enjoy the better of the possession in the second half, but it was to no avail as Rimando and the Real defense held the Rapids to just one shot on goal and earned their second straight shutout overall.

The result also capped a three-match, eight-day marathon with a 3-0-0 record and the maximum nine points.

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