It had been a rough stretch of matches for Real Salt Lake, but they got back on track over the weekend as they dominated Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Sunday, July 17. Truth be told, the match probably wasn't even as close as the score showed. Sergio Cordova, Pablo Ruiz, and Jefferson Savarino all scored second-half goals for RSL.
Things had been going poorly for RSL recently as they picked up just two points in their previous four matches (and the slump hadn't been against the strongest competition either), but this weekend got them back on track in terms of performance and result.
Cordova put RSL ahead in the 50th minute with a diving header. Some good passes on the left side found Andrew Brody with the ball and he put a good cross in to Cordova who dove in front of a defender to win the ball and put it accurately home. RSL had been in control, but hadn't been able to find the first goal until Cordova finally got the goal-scoring rolling.
Ruiz added the second goal in the 64th minute with a low strike from the edge of the box. Justin Meram made a run down the left side, he played the ball to Savarino who then found Ruiz at the edge of the box and Ruiz scored his second goal of the season.
Real Salt Lake dominated Sporting KC in 3-0 win
The dagger third goal came in the 70th minute off the head of Savarino. Meram played in a great cross from very wide on the left side and Savarino put the ball home after splitting the defense.
RSL had several really good chances in the first half, but John Pulskamp made some quality saves in net for Kansas City that kept SKC in the match for a while. Sporting KC also went down to 10 men in the 60th minute after a straight red card to Roger Espinoza. That advantage seemed to tilt the field even more towards the RSL attack.
Salt Lake held the possession edge 56.4%-43.6%. On top of that, RSL also completed a fantastic 89.4% of their passes (Sporting KC also completed a strong 85.2% of their passes, but RSL was even better). RSL also outshot SKC 19-6, and had a commanding 10-1 edge in shots on goal.
RSL led the way in expected goals 2.0 to 0.3. As previously mentioned, those xG numbers don't even tell the full story of the match, even though they already lean heavily in RSL's favor.
Pablo Ruiz was fantastic in the match. He scored the goal, but also completed 91.1% of his passes, made three key passes, and made three tackles. Justin Meram also had a strong match passing wise and creatively. He had two assists, but also completed 89.2% of his passes and made three key passes.
Jefferson Savarino also scored, added an assist, completed 85.3% of his passes, plus made a key pass. Andrew Brody led the way in key passes as he had four (on top of an 88.6% passing %), plus added an assist.
As you can tell, RSL was all-around very strong in this match. That score shows just how well RSL played and well the offense was flowing. As a team, and individually, there is a lot to feel good about from this match if you are a RSL fan.
This is the type of performance that Real Salt Lake fans know their team is capable of, and it had been a frustrating couple of weeks because the team wasn't playing up to expectations. Whether it be just not playing with intensity, not seeing out matches, or leaving points on the board. RSL hadn't played up to their quality the previous four matches, but in this one they looked every bit the contenders that they have the ability to be (and had shown to be earlier in the season).
RSL currently sits third in the Western Conference with 33 points. This was an important win for Salt Lake because other teams behind them are starting to catch up. RSL is just two points ahead of fourth and just four points ahead of eighth. Now Salt Lake will need to keep the positive results going moving forward.
Next up, RSL will face off against FC Dallas in a potential playoff preview on Saturday, July 23rd.