After allowing D.C. United to escape the RioT last year, U.S. Open Cup title in tow, despite allowing only one shot on goal, Real Salt Lake promptly steamrolled a stunned D.C. United squad over the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s match between the two teams, going on to win 3-0.
Behind the force of two goals from defender Chris Schuler and another from Joao Plata, the home side removed all doubt as to the match’s ultimate outcome, scoring all three goals in the game’s first 25 minutes. Javier Morales assisted both Schuler goals, while Luke Mulholland assisted on Plata’s opener.
But in the grand scheme of things, the night belonged to goalkeeper Nick Rimando. By pitching a shutout against his former team, Rimando separated himself from former recordholder Kevin Hartman to become Major League Soccer’s all-time shutouts leader with 113 in his career. Rimando didn’t have much work to do, with only two saves on the night, but his 70th minute save on Eddie Johnson followed by a critical punch on the ensuing cross did give RSL’s shot-stopper a chance to stamp his name on the match.
The win temporarily vaulted RSL into first place in the Western Conference, although Seattle’s Sunday win over Houston allowed the Sounders to reclaim the top spot. Next Saturday’s six-pointer between RSL and Seattle will give its winner an extra bump in the race to top the conference. Notably, due to his two yellow cards against Houston Dynamo, Obafemi Martins will be out for Saturday’s clash.
- RSL’s defenders had yet to score this season prior to Saturday’s match. Schuler’s offensive outburst took care of that unfortunate stat.
- On a related note, Chris Schuler doubled his MLS regular season career scoring total on Saturday. He now has 4 such goals in his career.
- Kyle Beckerman is an important player to RSL. I mean VERY important. It’s difficult to overstate the impact Kyle has on games. RSL’s goal differential is +15 when he’s on the field and -6 when he’s off. Those numbers arise from Kyle’s excellent offensive control on the ball along with his ability to break up the opposing team’s attack before it can reach RSL’s back line. (h/t Charles Barnard)
- Joao Plata now has 10 goals in 2014, good for sixth in the league.
- With two assists Saturday, Javier Morales has leapfrogged up the leaderboard to second in the league, with 9.