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KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- Eddie Johnson wasted little time in his return from international duty, scoring the game's lone goal as the Kansas City Wizards posted a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
The Wizards (7-5-4), who scored just seven goals while going winless in six matches during Johnson's absence, earned three points to jump into second place in the Eastern Division.
Kansas City controlled the tempo throughout, constantly pushing the ball into Salt Lake's defensive half, and led in shots, 20-5.
"We know what we're capable of doing, and we're capable of scoring goals," Johnson said. "We've still got that winning mentality, and getting these three points will help us get our confidence back."
Johnson left the Wizards to join the United States CONCACAF Gold Cup team after recording his second consecutive hat trick in Kansas City's last win on June 2.
"I am very excited to be back," Johnson said. "I've been gone a long time. I wanted to get back to something positive."
"He got right back to where he was," Wizards captain Jimmy Conrad said. "I'm happy to have him back."
Despite missing six games, Johnson retained a share of the league's scoring lead. He is tied with Luciano Emilio of D.C. United with 10 goals.
"I thought his goal was fantastic," Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "He's proving to be a very special player. He made the difference in the game."
"When things are going your way, they are going your way," Johnson said of knocking in his own rebound off the right post in the 19th minute. "I've been very fortunate in front of the goal."
Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 66th career, extending his own MLS record.
"Our backs did a good job of handling the pressure from their forwards," Hartman said. "We're not overly excited with how we played, but anytime you can get a 1-0 shutout, it is something to be proud of. The defense did a fine job of limiting their opportunities. It was a total team effort."
"Anytime we get a shutout, it's good for the team; it builds momentum," Wizards defender Jose Burciaga Jr. said. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but we have a good defensive core. We stay positive and work hard for each other."
Playing without forward Alecko Eskandarian and midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, both of whom were sitting out due to suspensions, Real Salt Lake (1-8-6) remained in the Western Division cellar with nine points.
"I don't have much of a reason to hold my head down," Kreis said. "And I don't think the guys should either. I think we deserved to probably equalize late in the game. There were a couple of opportunities where we could have done better. We just need that one special player, like an Eddie Johnson."
This was the final match for both clubs before the All-Star Game on July 19 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. The Wizards will send Johnson, Hartman and Conrad to the event, while defender Eddie Pope - who will be making his 11th All-Star appearance - attends for Salt Lake.