Real returns to .500 with win

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By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Fabian Espindola's knee looked just fine Friday night.

Espindola scored both goals in Real Salt Lake's 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in just his third game since missing two months with a knee injury.

He had two other shots that just missed and a goal that was disallowed because of an offsides call.

"He's absolutely fantastic," Real coach Jason Kreis said. "When he's on, he scores goals and the team does well."

Espindola was a step ahead of the Rapids all night and had four shots, getting three on goal. Two went in, including a chip shot over Colorado goalkeeper Preston Burpo in the 59th minute.

Real (8-8-6) ended a two-game losing streak and is within two wins of tying the franchise record of 10, set two years ago. Salt Lake also got within two points of Houston for first place in the Western Conference.

The timing was critical because Salt Lake plays three of four games in September on the road, where Real has won just once this season. Salt Lake was coming off a 3-0 loss at Columbus last weekend.

"We got embarrassed a little bit and I think our guys responded to that very well," Kreis said.

Javier Morales had two assists and Nick Rimando got his eighth shutout of the year for Salt Lake, which had allowed seven goals in its past two games.

Colorado (7-12-3) lost for the fourth time in five games and has been shut out in all four losses.

The Rapids had only nine shots, and Rimando needed to make just two saves for the shutout.

"I thought we gave the ball away cheaply too often," Colorado coach Gary Smith said. "While we had fleeting opportunities, we didn't make the most of them."

Espindola put RSL up 1-0 in the 23rd minute, then in the 59th ran down a long pass from Javier Morales and chipped it over Burpo's head.

He had another goal disallowed on an offsides call a few minutes before and had two other great scoring opportunities in the first half. He was stopped on a point-blank shot by Burpo, then two minutes later got around the Colorado goalkeeper but he couldn't get his shot inside the near post.

Espindola almost scored for the Rapids, too, when he redirected a kick right to Rimando, who saved an own-goal.

"He was shooting on both sides. That's how good he felt tonight," Rimando said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-08-29-08 2209MDT

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