HARRISON, N.J. – An offensive outburst in the game’s opening 21 minutes, fueled by an Álvario Saborío header and two goals by Fabián Espíndola, paced a Real Salt Lake 3-1 win over New York at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.
It was a game in which Real Salt Lake dominated from the start, moving the ball effortlessly down the field and creating numerous opportunities in front of the New York goal.
The win moves Real Salt Lake into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with a game in hand on Seattle, improving their record to 15-7-6 (51 points). Despite the loss, the Red Bulls (7-7-15; 36 points) still remain in the lead for the 10th and final playoff spot on goal differential over Portland.
The result never seemed in doubt as the visitors took the lead in the seventh minute. On an Andy Williams corner kick, Saborío rose perfectly over Teemu Tainio to tuck in a header just inside the Red Bulls’ near post. It was ninth goal of the season for the Costa Rican international, and the tone was set for the rest of the match.
Four minutes after Saborío gave them the early go-ahead, the visitors doubled their lead via some sloppy play from the Red Bulls backline.
Red Bulls right back Jan Gunnar Solli played a dangerous square ball across the top of the 18-yard box to Tim Ream and, right in front of goal, Ream softly sent a back pass in the direction of goalkeeper Frank Rost. The slow roller was intercepted by Espíndola, who simply rounded Rost and fired his eighth goal of the season into an open net.
Adding further insult to the New York first half was an injury to left back Chris Albright. The former US international was forced out of the match with a non-contact right-calf injury, forcing New York to make an early substitution with the insertion of Carlos Mendes to the backline.
Up 2-0, Real Salt Lake continued to press and got another deserved goal at the midway point of the first half.
It came in the 21st minute. After a give-and-go with Saborío near the midfield line, Collen Warner threaded a precise pass between Solli and Rafa Márquez to a sprinting Espíndola. Carrying the ball to the top of the area, Espíndola touched his ninth goal of his season right past Rost, who didn’t move on the shot.
While Real Salt Lake dictated the flow of much of the game, New York pressed for some goals in the final 30 minutes and the home team pulled one back for their efforts.
In the 69th, two minutes after a Joel Lindpere shot from 25 yards was spectacularly tipped onto the crossbar by Nick Rimando, made good on another chance. He put away his seventh goal of the season in spectacular fashion, scissor-kicking home Márquez’s free kick to make it 3-1.
But RSL would budge no further, as Rimando saved well on a Juan Agudelo header, and the defense charged down numerous looks from outside the box.
Real Salt Lake will hope to push their winning streak to six on Saturday at RFK Stadium against D.C. United. The team the Red Bulls are tied with on points for the final playoff spot, the Portland Timbers, will visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio 9 (Andy Williams 1) 7
RSL -- Fabian Espindola 8 (unassisted) 11
RSL -- Fabian Espindola 9 (Collen Warner 5, Alvaro Saborio 3) 21
NY -- Joel Lindpere 7 (Rafael Marquez 4) 69
NY -- Luke Rodgers (caution; Reckless Foul) 47+
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Andy Williams (Arturo Alvarez 68), Yordany Alvarez, Collen Warner (Luis Gil 77), Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio (Jean Alexandre 83), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Paulo Araujo Jr., Ned Grabavoy, Blake Wagner, Tim Melia.
New York Red Bulls -- Frank Rost, Jan Gunnar Solli, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream, Chris Albright (Carlos Mendes 15), Dane Richards, Dax McCarty, Teemu Tainio (Brian Nielsen 86), Joel Lindpere, Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 54), Thierry Henry.
Substitutes Not Used: Stephane Auvray, Mehdi Ballouchy, Stephen Keel, Bouna Coundoul.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Claudio Badea
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Rain and 68 degrees