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SANDY — Real Salt Lake opened the fortress Saturday night by hosting Major League Soccer opponent the New York Red Bulls and extended its record to 2-0-0 over New York with goals from Fabian Espindola and the young Luis Gil.
“Obviously very pleased to walk away with three points,” said RSL boss Jason Kreis.
“I do think it needs to be said that we need to continue to improve because tonight was certainly no where near perfect," he said. "Effort was great, but in the second half there I really felt like we should have been scored on — so lots of areas for improvement.”
While there may still be room for improvement, RSL has started its 2012 season off with quite the bang. With two wins over two big teams in the league, perhaps the team is making a statement that it is on its way to the top again.
Tony Beltran told the media, “You look at the atmosphere tonight and you question are we really a small- market team. I mean, we’re here to stay in this city, the fans are just fantastic, the atmosphere — them chanting the anthem tonight was something very special and I think one of the most special atmospheres in the league.
“Yeah, maybe there’s a little bit of extra incentive when you’re lining up against Beckham or Henry because they’re very talented players with very long pedigrees, but once you get on the field it’s just us verse them and there’s no superstars, no David versus Goliath, we’re just out there to win,” he said.
The RioT pitch had a few new faces tonight as RSL’s Sebastian Velazquez started the match, and Northern Irelands Jonny Steele made his MLS debut in the 83rd minute to relieve Velaszquez.
“Hats off to the fans tonight. Getting there early, being there right from the kick off, singing together — it was a special night for sure,” said Kreis.
RSL will remain home next week as host of MLS opponent Chiva’s USA on Saturday.
Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for KSL.com