Real Salt Lake Making a Statement Early in Major League Soccer Season

Matt JonesAnalyst IMarch 19, 2012

SANDY, UT - MARCH 17: Fabian Espindola #7 celebrates the first home goal of the season with Paulo Araujo Jr. #23 and Luis Gil #21 of the Real Salt Lake against the New York Red Bulls during the first half of an MLS soccer game March 17, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images

Real Salt Lake is proving that they are the team to beat in Major League Soccer this season. 

In its two matches so far this year, Real Salt Lake has dominated two of the league's most popular teams and held their opponents' international superstars to frustrating performances. 

Following a season-opening victory on the road against the defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake returned home and easily took care of the New York Red Bulls.

Although head coach Jason Kreis does not consider any of his contributing players to be "second-string" guys, Real Salt Lake is finding success with several key players and usual starters on the bench due to injuries.

With Nat Borchers not playing in either of the two opening matches and usual scoring threats Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales coming in as second-half substitutions, players like Chris Schuler and Paulo Jr. have stepped up to help the team to prove that the "team is the star" concept employed by Kreis can be successful.

In addition to Schuler and Paulo Jr., other players are stepping up at the right time as well.

Defender Tony Beltran and midfielder Ned Grabavoy have both played well in both matches, and striker Fabian Espindola is finishing his scoring chances.

The team has allowed only one goal against the likes of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, David Beckham and Thierry Henry.

Real Salt Lake now has the opportunity to put more points in the win column, as it plays three of its next four matches at home. 

The team also gets a chance to continue to prove that their reaching the late stages of the Western Conference Finals last season was well-deserved and that they are the team to beat in Major League Soccer.


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