Real Salt Lake (8-4-8, 32 points, West #2), picked up a valuable three points on Thursday, getting goals from RSL MF Luke Mulholland and FW Olmes Garcia to beat Montreal Impact (3-11-5, 14 points, East #10) 3-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL’s Mulholland put the Claret-and-Cobalt up 1-0 just three minutes in to the game. Montreal managed to pull even before halftime through DF Hassoun Camara in the 31st minute. The Impact then went down a man in the 65th minute and couldn’t hold on with RSL substitute Garcia notching a brace with goals in the 70th and 93rd minutes to secure the win.
Real Salt Lake opened up the scoring in the third minute through Mulholland. The play started with a corner taken by RSL MF Javier Morales who whipped a ball into the box that Montreal flicked on to the far side of the area. RSL DF Chris Schuler was there to head the ball back into the middle of the box where an open Mulholland half-volleyed a shot to the bottom left corner, beating Montreal GK Evan Bush.
Real Salt Lake continued to create chances early on with RSL FW Robbie Findley registering an opportunity to put RSL up by two a minute later. Real Salt Lake found FW Joao Plata with room to work at the top of the area and who then played a ball into the path of Findley just inside the left side of the box. Findley didn’t manage to get much on his shot however, forcing Bush into an easy save.
Montreal had a chance to pull things even in the ninth minute. The Impact played a dangerous ball to the far left post where Montreal FW Marco Di Vaio made a diving effort to put a shot on frame but his attempt went just shy of the far post.
Real Salt Lake had a golden opportunity to double its lead in the 19th minute. The play started with the Claret-and-Cobalt finding an open Plata on the counter. The speedy Ecuadorian carried the ball to the top of the box and placed a perfect pass into the path of Morales on the left side of the area. The Argentine took a touch and sent a low driven shot to the center of goal which didn’t end up troubling Bush, who easily collected the attempt.
Real Salt Lake continued to threaten registering a chance in the 27th minute. Plata was at the center of the action receiving the ball near the touch line on the left side. The small forward displayed some nifty footwork to get around his defender and sent a low shot that ended up straight at the legs of Bush who deflected the shot away.
The game refused to settle down with Montreal continuing to find space to work in and eventually finding an equalizer in the 31st minute. The Impact nicely switched the field of play, finding Montreal MF Calum Mallace open on the right flank just outside the penalty area. Mallace played a simple pass into the top of the box for oncoming DF Hassoun Camara who one-timed a perfectly placed shot to the far post to draw the Impact even.
Real Salt Lake continued to stay on the front foot with Mulholland creating a pair of opportunities in the 39th and 41st minutes. The Englishman began the first chance by chipping in a lovely ball in behind Montreal’s back line for Plata. The Ecuadorian took a bouncing touch to set himself up for a half-volley attempt that struck the side netting of the near post. In the second look, Mulholland neatly chested down a ball to the top of the penalty area for RSL MF Ned Grabavoy who had an open look at goal but the RSL veteran sent his half-volley wide of the far post.
The second half saw Real Salt Lake settle things down, returning to its standard possession based game. Schuler had a golden opportunity in the 50th minute after a ball bounced right to the center back’s feet at the corner of the six yard box, but his close-range effort went straight to Bush. Morales saw the next look in the 61st minute after RSL DF Chris Wingert worked his way down the left side to play in a low cross into the middle of the box. Morales was there at the far post but Bush came up big making a diving save to deny Morales from close-range.
The Impact was dealt a severe blow in the 65th minute after Montreal MF Issey Nakajima-Farran was issued a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on RSL’s Schuler. Able to take advantage of being up a man, Real Salt Lake retook the lead through a beautiful goal scored by substitute Olmes Garcia in the 70th minute. Morales started the play on the right side, sending in a wonderful cross into the box that Garcia fantastically headed to the far post for his first of the year.
Real Salt Lake GK Nick Rimando made a huge save in the 75th minute to preserve the lead. The Claret-and-Cobalt cleared the ball to the top of the area, where open Montreal MF Andres Romero volleyed an attempt from 20 yards out. The shot ended up being a dangerous one as it forced Rimando to punch the ball away for the save.
Garcia made it two on the evening, giving the Claret-and-Cobalt an insurance goal in the 93rd minute. The play started with Morales deftly chipping a pass with the outside of the foot to Garcia at the top right corner of the box, who then sprung for goal and provided a sublime finish to the far post to end the night.
Real Salt Lake will finish its three-game homestand next Wednesday, when it hosts New York Red Bulls at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8:00 p.m. MT in a nationally televised match on ESPN 2. Tickets to the RSL-New York contest can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.