Impact-Real Salt Lake Preview
Real Salt Lake is enjoying a terrific start to the season, thanks to one of the most productive offenses in MLS.
RSL surely feels good about its chances to keep things going Wednesday night when it faces the winless Montreal Impact, who have struggled mightily on defense.
Sitting in a first-place tie atop the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake (3-1-0) came out with a high-scoring effort Saturday. Jonny Steele evened the score in the 89th minute before fellow midfielder Kyle Beckerman scored in stoppage time, capping a thrilling comeback in a 3-2 win at Portland.
"We will take some confidence boosts from this, and, of course, winning a game gives it to you," Beckerman said. " But we have to turn around and get ready for the game on Wednesday because it doesn't stop. You have to take it one game at a time."
RSL's eight goals are the most in the West and two fewer than New York's MLS-best total. The Red Bulls scored half of those during a 5-2 win over Montreal (0-3-1) on Saturday.
Midfielders Sanna Nyassi and Justin Mapp scored for the Impact, who led 1-0 and 2-1 before New York stormed back.
"The second half got much too open and we allowed way too much space for their talented players. They punished us," coach Jesse Marsch, whose team has committed a league-high 67 fouls, told the team's official website. "We all have to stay focused on how to move ourselves along. It's a moment of big frustration because we felt we played a good first half, but one half does not get you results."
Montreal's 10 goals surrendered are the most in MLS. The Impact's two goals scored Saturday were one more than they tallied during their first three games.
"There is still a long way to go and now a quick turnaround for our next game Wednesday," Mapp said.
Given its defensive woes, Montreal could have a difficult time trying to contain forward Fabian Espindola. After starting each of RSL's first three games, he came on in the 70th minute Saturday and found Beckerman for the winning goal.
Espindola has a team-leading two goals to go with a team-best seven shots.
"Obviously to have (Espindola) out there, you know he's capable of pulling off a special play and (Saturday) he did it again," coach Jason Kreis said.
The Impact's Donovan Ricketts made two saves Saturday. He's allowed seven goals in going 1-3-1 in five career starts versus RSL.
Counterpart Nick Rimando has gone 33-4-12 over his last 49 home games, posting 27 shutouts in that stretch while giving up 30 goals.
RSL, handed a 1-0 defeat by Chivas USA at home March 24, hasn't lost back-to-back matches on its own field since Oct. 6-15, 2007.