SANDY, Utah -- The last few times Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution have met in Utah, the games have been marred by multiple red cards. Saturday night was no different.
Will Johnson was sent off for RSL in the 59th minute and Fernando Cardenas received the same in the 81st for New England.
The red card didn't come out until the scoring was finished. Alvaro Saborio's brace carried the home side to a 2-1 victory over the Revs in front of 18,219 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Blake Brettschneider scored a wondergoal for New England in the first half.
Brettschneider's goal came decidedly against the run of play as Salt Lake had set up camp in New England's half. That's when the former D.C. United forward got behind the defense on a counterattack up the left flank, cut back to the right, and unleashed a shot from the top of the 18 that curled past Nick Rimando and inside the far post. His stunner was New England's only dangerous chance of the half.
"Give credit to him, the kid hit a great shot," said RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "What a bomb he hit. But we don't stop believing. Tonight we went down a goal but there wasn't any doubt in our mind that we were going to win this game."
RSL's play proved Beckerman right as Saborio annotated his first goal just 11 minutes after Brettschneider's, sending RSL into the half level on the scoreboard.
Salt Lake came out of the half as the aggressors again, and just 10 minutes later Saborio's second goal put Real ahead. It looked like it would cruise to a win at that point, but then everything was cast in doubt as Johnson was sent off for a hard challenge just four minutes after the go-ahead goal. Salt Lake was forced to defend a bit more and conceded much of its vaunted possession to the visitor. Rimando kept RSL in the game on several occasions with highlight-reel saves.
"He was fantastic," said Saborio of Rimando. "He held the team for the win and we thank him for that."
"For me, Nick got us the three points," said Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis. "Without him in goal, we're probably walking away with one [point]."
But RSL weathered the storm well, and then it found reprieve as Cardenas was sent off with the game drawing to a close. Back on level numerical terms, Real was back to its old self going forward. This time it was the play of New England goalkeeper Matt Reis that kept RSL from putting the game on ice. The matchup between Rimando and Reis was highly anticipated, and neither net-minder disappointed. The two goalkeepers have combined for 222 career wins - that's more than seven full MLS seasons.
"I would say that Matt Reis kept them in the game," said Kreis. "Without him in the net, it would have went 3-1 and the game would have been over. So two fantastic players on display tonight and they played to the top of their potential."
Kreis was quick to note that his team's up and down play, and its struggles to put opponents away, has put him a bit on edge. Nevertheless, he is bullish on the direction the club heading.
"I'm still pleased and I'm going to take a positive mindset," said Kreis. "But I'd like to coach a game here at home where I get to relax a little bit more. At some point I hope we get a game or two where I get to sit on the bench and be quiet."
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