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SALT LAKE CITY (Wednesday, September 3, 2008) - Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espíndola's 59th-minute strike was awarded Major League Soccer's Sierra Mist Goal of the Week for Week 23 of the 2008 season. Espíndola was yesterday named the MLS Player of the Week after scoring both goals in Real Salt Lake's 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in a Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry showdown last Friday, Aug. 29 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The win improved Real Salt Lake's record to 8-8-6 with 30 points, and gave the club sole possession of second place in the Western Conference, five points behind Houston Dynamo and three points ahead of third-place Chivas USA.
Espindola and Argentine countryman Javier Morales would connect for the game's second and final goal in the 59th minute. Morales gathered the ball in Real Salt Lake's defensive half and sent a perfectly weighted, 50-yard pass up the field to Espíndola, who raced by a defender and lobbed the ball over Burpo's head. The goal was his fifth of the season, tying him with teammate Robbie Findley for the team lead (Findley's Week 10 goal against San Jose was RSL's lone previous Goal of the Week honoree). Espíndola is now one of two Real Salt Lake players to score twice in a game this season, with captain Kyle Beckerman's brace in a 4-1 win over D.C. United on April 12 standing as the other occasion.
Espíndola, 23, now in his second season with Real Salt Lake, scored the opening goal of the game in the 23rd minute after receiving a back-heel pass from MF Andy Williams. A long ball from RSL's assist leader, MF Javier Morales, found Williams' feet, and Espíndola timed his run perfectly to receive the clever pass from Williams before slamming home a left-footed shot from 12 yards out. Espíndola, making his return to the RSL starting line-up for the first time since a knee injury sidelined him in late May, celebrated his fourth goal of the season with the back-handspring flip first made famous at Rice-Eccles Stadium by the man that now serves as his coach, Jason Kreis.
Espíndola was a constant threat throughout the game and appeared to have his second goal in the 53rd minute. Rapids goalkeeper Preston Burpo blocked an RSL shot from outside the penalty area, but it popped up into the air. Espíndola raced to the ball and headed it into the net, but was judged to be in an offside position.
Espíndola signed with Real Salt Lake in August 2007 from Sociedad Deportivo Quito in Ecuador's first division and has started 15 of his 23 contests during his burgeoning MLS career. This is young Argentine's first career Player of the Week award and the second of the season for an RSL player, with Findley also garnering the accolade in Week 10. Espíndola returns to action with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening when the Utah side hosts U.A.N.L. (Tigres) of the Mexican first division at Rice-Eccles Stadium (8:00 p.m. MT). Espíndola and RSL will return to MLS action in an important Western Conference fixture versus the Los Angeles Galaxy this Saturday, Sept. 6 at 8:30 p.m. MT (live on KSL-TV 5.3 Digital / Comcast Ch. 105).
The Sierra Mist Goal of the Week is selected each week of the MLS regular season via fan voting on www.MLSnet.com, and with each week's five nominees also viewable at www.RealSaltLake.com.