It’s not very often that the second match of a competition is referred to as a “must win.” Due to the new format of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League, Tuesday’s match against Panamanian side Tauro FC was just that for Real Salt Lake. After a 1-0 loss at Costa Rican side C.S. Herediano in July, the Claret and Cobalt found themselves dead last in Group Two with their backs against the wall.
Maybe that’s what Real Salt Lake needed. Slugging through less-than-stellar form (three straight losses) in league play as of late, the club picked up a vital 2-0 win over Tauro FC in its second of four CCL group-stage matches.
The hosts dominated the early stages of play, prodding the Tauro backline in an attempt to find the first goal of the evening. Ned Grabavoy and Alvaro Saborio combined for the best early chance of the match when each player got a crack at the net in the 16th minute. Neither shot found the frame, however, and the match remained scoreless.
Come the end of the first half, RSL held the upper hand in many of the notable categories: shots, shots on goal, corners, possession, less time spent writhing on the ground feigning injury…yet the deadlock remained unbroken.
It barely took any time at all for Salt Lake to grab the advantage in the second half, as Saborio punched home a rebound in the 48th minute to give his side a 1-0 lead. This wouldn’t have happened were it not for the brilliant work of Paulo Junior, who worked his way past multiple Tauro defenders to fire the initial shot on target.
Kyle Beckerman helped to put his side on cruise control in the 58th minute, beating Alvaro Anzola with a brilliant shot to the low, far corner. Beckerman collected the ball 25 yards from goal, took a sharp cut to switch to his left foot and skimmed the ball across the grass and into the net.
In the 72nd minute, the match took an interesting turn when Beckerman karate kicked an opponent at midfield and earned a straight red card. Clearly upset because of a missed cheap shot moments before, Beckerman lost his cool and took out his aggression against his offender. For all of the mistakes that can be seen from CONCACAF officiating, this was not one of them.
At the end of the day, it was a good result for RSL. Sure, goal differential is king and it may have been nice to get one more goal to the good, but it was very important for the club to step up and win this match. Will some of this attacking intent and solid offensive play carry over to the league schedule? We’ll find out on Friday when the club dives right back in with a 7:30 pm EST match at Philadelphia. The game will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network.
Real Salt Lake will play its next CCL match on September 18 at Tauro FC.