SANDY -- For a night anyway, Real Salt Lake answered all the questions.
The Claret-and-Cobalt busted out of a four-match slump in spectacular fashion, riding an Alvaro Saborio hat trick to a 3-0 whitewashing of Portland on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
It was Saborio's first three-goal outing during his Major League Soccer career. It was also just the second ever hat trick for Real in MLS play, and third overall in team history.
"I'm happy with this win; this was pretty good," Saborio said. "It's very important for the team firstly because we have a few losses and hopefully we will win like that again."
With the match level at 0-0 at halftime, despite strong play across the pitch by Salt Lake, the team finally clicked in the second half, ending a string of five consecutive halves without scoring a goal, in dominating fashion.
"I'm really pleased for (Saborio)," Real boss Jason Kreis said. "I think he's playing very well. I think that some people think that he is not because he's not scoring as many goals as they would like him to, but we see so much that we really appreciate him. We're pleased for a guy that's had a couple of goals taken away from him to get on the scoreboard three times."
Real earned its second straight shutout, commanding possession from start to finish and completing 85 percent of its 498 passes. Salt Lake outshot Portland 15-5, including an 8-0 clip on frame.
"I'm very pleased. I believe we built off the things we did on Wednesday night (vs. Seattle). Really strong defensive effort and some good things on the attacking end, but we were unfortunate not to score,"Kreis said. "I thought tonight we put it all together and we got the result."
After 60 minutes at scoreless, Real put on a clinic over the final half-hour.
Midfielder Luis Gil, an early first-half substitute for RSL after Ned Grabavoy took a cleat to the knee, drove to the right edge of the box, back-crossing the ball to Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman deftly lofted the ball up and over the Portland defense to Saborio, who headed it into the right side of the goal. The score broke a 251 minute scoreless streak for Real.
Just two minutes later, the score was doubled.
Defender Chris Wingert lofted a centering cross from the middle third to Saborio, who ran through two Timbers defenders and headed the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
Likely flustered by conceding two goals in rapid fashion, Portland's emotions kicked in with a series of hard fouls against midfielder Javier Morales. Seven cautions and an ejection were issued over the final 25 minutes, the most severe being Diego Chara's sending off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity with his hands on the goalline.
The end result put Saborio at the spot, and the Costa Rican international easily converted his attempt to the right side to make it 3-0 and complete the hat trick.