Real Salt Lake 2, Sounders 1
SANDY, Utah (AP)
Generating offense without involving leading scorer Alvaro Saborio was a problem for Real Salt Lake throughout much of last season. So the team's outlook didn't seem promising when the forward injured his knee during a national team stint with Costa Rica this week.
But his absence created an opening, and Robbie Findley and Luis Gil stepped in to fill the void.
Findley and Gil each scored first-half goals and Real Salt Lake claimed its first home victory of the 2013 season with a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night.
For Findley, it marked his first goal in his second stint with the team. He helped Salt Lake win the MLS Cup in 2009.
''It always feels good as a striker when you get that first one off your back,'' Findley said. ''Then, hopefully, the rest will start flowing. We're getting opportunities and I'll get more goals.''
Brad Evans scored for the Sounders (0-3-1), who remain winless a month into the 2013 season. The Sounders struggled to get going offensively in the first half and could not get out of a two-goal hole they dug for themselves by halftime.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid was disgusted with the inconsistent effort his team showed against RSL.
''We're picking and choosing times when to play,'' Schmid said. ''We've got moments in a game where three or four guys are involved and some other guys are not involved. Then some other guys get involved and some other guys are not involved. We have yet to get where 11 guys are involved for 90 minutes all the time.''
Salt Lake had no such problems playing with energy - especially in a first half, when it attacked the goal early and often.
Findley made up for Saborio's absence with his big first-half goal. He collected a cleared ball and drilled a left footer from the right side of the box to put RSL up 1-0 in the eighth minute.
It snapped a 408-minute scoreless streak against Seattle going back to last season. Findley left the game a few minutes after his goal with a left adductor strain and did not return.
''When I took the shot, that's when I felt it,'' Findley said. ''I tried to go on, but I couldn't.''
His absence did not slow Salt Lake down.
Gil added to the RSL tally in the 35th minute. Sebastian Velasquez sent a corner kick in to Ned Grabavoy and he flicked the ball to Gil on the right side of the box. Gil headed the ball home into the left corner to make it 2-0.
RSL nearly tacked on a third goal before halftime. Joao Plata broke free in the initial minute of first-half stoppage time. Plata fired off a right-footer while running down the center of the box. Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning parried the ball away at the right post.
Salt Lake had nine shots on goal before halftime, while limiting the Sounders to just two shots in the half.
The Sounders finally got on the board in the 57th minute, when Evans scored a left-footed shot off the right post to make it 2-1.
RSL got a boost from the return of Javier Morales in the 62nd minute. Morales made his season debut after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. The veteran midfielder settled the team down and helped keep Seattle from completing the rally.
Salt Lake is a different team with Morales in the lineup - and a better one as far as RSL coach Jason Kreis is concerned.
''We know how valuable Javier is,'' Kreis said. ''We know how gifted he is with the ball. We know if we want to be an elite club in this country and in this league, then we need a player like Javier Morales to make differences. So it's good to have him back on track and moving forward.''