SANDY -- Better energy, better mindset, better result.
Needing a strong performance to erase the foul taste of its disastrous home loss to Los Angeles a week ago, Real Salt Lake got exactly what it wanted out of Saturday night's clash with freefalling Vancouver.
Courtesy of two fantastic right side crosses from forward Joao Plata, the Claret-and-Cobalt dropped the Whitecaps 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Salt Lake's three points from the victory pulled the Utah side into a three-way tie with idle Portland and Los Angeles for the No. 2 position on the Western Conference table, although both the Timbers and Galaxy have matches in hand.
"I think tactically we did the right thing trying to put the ball in their half. I don't think we were very clean. In the Galaxy match we spent too much time in our own half. I was thought we battled, but I expected cleaner possessions when we got there, but it didn't happen," RSL boss Jason Kreis said. "The good news is that we stayed with things and got a result that was critical in my eyes."
Plata, who has shown tremendous upside in his still short career in a Real Salt Lake uniform, performed brilliantly in the second half as he provided the final pass on both goals.
"He's (Plata) shown us that he is capable of making an assist," Kreis said. "I'd like to see him put it in the net to add to that, but we'll hope for that next match.
The first came during a rapid-fire restart sequence and a booming goalkick from Nick Rimando that Plata latched onto near the edge of the third, turning up field before deftly lofting a cross from just outside the box to midfielder Luis Gil, who was running into the box on the opposite side.
The ball floated perfectly to Gil's head and he smashed the ball past Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon before taking a sideswipe of Cannon's shoe to the face, and tweaking his ankle, an injury that forced Gil from the match just moments later.
"It was really unselfish of him (Plata)," Gil said. "I didn't really get to see the goal, so I was a little worried, I didn't know if it went in or not ... but then I heard the roaring of the fans. It was a good joy.
"I felt like in the first 15 minutes I was making good runs, but my passes were off. It's just one of those days where my passing wasn't the sharpest, but it's something that I has to control and adjust to."
Vancouver very nearly leveled the match at 1-1 in the 61st minute when a shot by Corey Hertzog deflected off the gloves of Rimando and rolled slowly toward the goalline, only to be cleared out at the last-possible second by central defender Nat Borchers.
Salt Lake all but sealed the victory in the 71st minute with a textbook passing sequence started - and finished - by midfielder Javier Morales.
Morales gained control of the ball near midfield and floated it from center to Sebastian Velasquez on the right side of the pitch. Velasquez tapped the ball ahead to Plata, who drove the ball just inside the right corner of the box before centering it to the oncoming Morales. Morales easily hammered home it home past Cannon to make it 2-0.
Saturday's match kicks off a massively busy week for Real Salt Lake, with the team heading east to take on the New England Revolution on Wednesday night and then making their debut in Montreal on Saturday.
* RED BULLS 1, CREW 0: At Columbus, Ohio,Tim Cahill scored on a rebound moments after a penalty kick save by Luis Robles and New York defeated Columbus.
Cahill headed a rebound in the 80th minute after Andy Gruenebaum made the initial save off a shot by Jonathan Steele.
His third goal of the season came seven minutes after Robles went to his right to stop Federico Higuain's penalty after Eddie Gaven was fouled by Brandon Barklage.
New York (5-4-2) has won three straight.
Columbus (3-3-3) had its 12-game home unbeaten streak ended.
* IMPACT 2, EARTHQUAKES 2: At Santa Clara, Calif., Sam Cronin scored in the first minute of second-half injury time to give San Jose a draw against Montreal.
Justin Mapp scored in the 24th and 47th minute to give Montreal a 2-0 lead, but San Jose rookie Adam Jahn got one back in the 59th.
Cronin took one touch off a knockdown header from Chris Wondolowski and lashed a shot home from 20 yards for his first goal of the season.
Montreal (5-1-2) extended its unbeaten streak to three matches.
San Jose (2-3-5) has tied four of the past five matches and is winless in six straight games.
* SOUNDERS 2, UNION 2: At Chester, Pa., Mauro Rosales scored a goal in the 64th minute to give Seattle a draw on the road against Philadelphia.
Danny Cruz scored twice for the Union (3-3-3), who remained undefeated at home.
After Rosales got the equalizer for Seattle (1-3-3), the match got chippy. Seattle's Lamar Neagle and Philadelphia's Sheanon Williams were shown red cards in the 85th minute following a scuffle.
Five minutes later, Seattle's DeAndre Yedlin was sent off at the beginning of stoppage time.
* RAPIDS 1, TORONTO FC 0: At Commerce City, Colo., Edson Buddle scored in the 86th minute to lift the Colorado Rapids to a victory over Toronto FC.
After finding the ball just outside the crease when Toronto defender Logan Emory gave it up, Buddle easily scored into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Colorado (3-4-3) has scored four goals in its past five games, though the Rapids have been outscored 9-8 overall this season.
Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin outplayed Toronto's Joseph Bendik to improve to 3-2-2 with three shutouts since taking over for the injured Matt Pickens.
Toronto (1-4-4) has lost consecutive games after tying four straight, and dropped to 0-3-1 on road.