RSL dominates Toronto FC in 3-0 home victory

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SANDY — In their last four games without veteran keeper Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake earned two wins over FC Cincinnati and Colorado Rapids but also dropped two matches against LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers. The team welcomed back their 13-year defensive anchor for Saturday afternoon’s match-up against Toronto FC and he did not disappoint.

Rimando earned his second shutout of the season for RSL in a 3-0 victory, thanks in part to a huge save just four minutes into the match. Toronto FC dominated possession early on in the first half, creating multiple chances on RSL’s side of the field. Rimando and the Real Salt Lake defense held true, however, preventing Toronto from jumping out on top early in the match.

RSL head coach Mike Petke said his team planned for Toronto’s early attacking before Saturday’s match. “We knew they were going to come in and try to win it early,” Petke said. “Overall, they had a lot of the possession the first 15 minutes, but we never really felt completely threatened at goal.”

Along with Rimando, RSL’s back four also came up big early on, booting away numerous Toronto crosses and preventing the Reds from getting on the board first.

The back four of Nadum Onuoha, Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, and Donny Toia have provided consistency on the back line for Petke in the past couple of games.

“The one consistency that me, as a coach, would really love to have day in and day out is the back four,” Petke said.

After shutting down the Toronto attack early on, Real Salt Lake began to find success on the offensive side of the field and never looked back.

Damir Kreilach found the back of the net first for RSL, taking an Albert Rusnak cross and splitting two Toronto defenders before striking the ball past the Toronto keeper. The goal was his third of the season and gave RSL a 1-0 lead just 14 minutes into the match.

Bofo Saucedo doubled the RSL lead 14 minutes later with his first goal of the season. The 22-year-old forward curled a beautiful strike from outside the 18 to give RSL a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute.

“That’s my bread and butter,” Saucedo said after the match. “I’m not scared to shoot; it’s definitely something I practice in training.”

Petke said he was pleased with the way Saucedo, who had only started three games this season going into Saturday’s game, played against Toronto. “I’m willing to give opportunities, and Bofo earned this opportunity,” Petke said. “In two games now, I’m very happy with how he’s played.”

After taking that 2-0 lead with them into the locker room, RSL kept their foot on the gas pedal in the second half.

Saucedo came up big again in the 60th minute, floating in a perfect ball to a streaking Jefferson Savarino, who lost the Toronto defender and scored to give RSL a 3-0 lead. The goal was the second on the season for Savarino.

After that goal, the wheels began to fall off for Toronto. Star midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo tripped Saucedo for his second yellow card of the game, leaving his team with a 3-goal deficit and only 10 men on the field for the final 30 minutes of the match.

Toronto FC was never able to find the back of the net, as, once again, Rimando held true for the Real Salt Lake defense.

The win boosts RSL to 5-1-6 on the season, good for 16 points and 6th place in the Western Conference. Real Salt Lake will remain at home next weekend for a showdown with defending MLS Champion Atlanta FC on Friday.

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