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Real Salt Lake Finds Form Against the Vancouver Whitecaps

Matt JonesAnalyst IJune 5, 2011

Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates after scoring late in the match
Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates after scoring late in the matchGeorge Frey/Getty Images

For a Real Salt Lake team that has been struggling for several weeks, a home match against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps could not have come at a better time.

Playing without three players—with their international teams—and missing Jamison Olave due to red card suspension, a shorthanded Real Salt Lake dominated the match with both possession and scoring opportunities from start to finish.

The result was a 2-0 victory and three full points in the standings for Real Salt Lake.

For the first time in several games, Real Salt Lake was able to score an early goal and take a lead into halftime.

After a long buildup and a few good scoring chances that narrowly missed the goal, Jean Alexandre, getting his second straight start at the forward position, was able to punch one into the back of the net.

In the 32nd minute, Alexandre received a great through ball from Kyle Beckerman at the top of the box, took a couple of touches and popped the ball over the goalkeeper to the far post.

It was the first goal scored by Alexandre in his Major League Soccer career.

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The second half started much like the first ended, with Real Salt Lake dominating possession, and the Whitecaps being unable to do much with the ball.

After multiple shots and several good scoring chances, Fabian Espindola was able to score his second goal of the season and give Real Salt Lake a needed insurance goal.

Espindola scored in the 79th minute when a ball from Alexandre made it through the Vancouver defense and Espindola found himself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. He was able to put it home for Real Salt Lake.

Hopefully for Espindola and Real Salt Lake, this goal and victory will exorcise the demons the team has endured this season. For Espindola, it was his first goal since missing a great chance early in the CONCACAF final against Monterrey.

When asked about Espindola's goal, head coach Jason Kreis stated, “It was very gratifying to see. In the last two games, the ground that he has covered and the balls that he has chased down … he’s taking a few more risks than typical. I think he’s doing that because he knows that someone has to make a difference for us right now and he is trying to be that guy that will do it.”

After scoring, it seemed Espindola was celebrating much more than a single goal. Perhaps this will get him going again, and he can return to scoring for Real Salt Lake.

Although well deserved man of the match honors went to Alexandre for scoring his first goal and following it up with a great assist, credit should be given to center back Chris Schuler, who played a great match in place of Olave.

His play could give Real Salt Lake more options in their already stellar defensive backfield.

Match Notes: With his late goal, Fabian Espindola moved into third place all-time in goals scored for Real Salt Lake with 18 (Robbie Findley 29, Jeff Cunningham 19).

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando earned his seventh shutout of the season, coming in the team's 10th match. The team has allowed only four goals all season, with two coming while playing down a man.

Real Salt Lake has a busy week with a Wednesday match on the road against the Columbus Crew, and a Saturday match in Philadelphia against the Union.

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