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SANDY — Real Salt Lake had its first multi-goal match since April 9 in a 2-1 victory over Austin FC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, thanks to an 88th minute game winner from Andrew Brody.
"This is a player's game, and tonight the players were absolutely fantastic," head coach Pablo Mastroeni said. "In the way they approached it, the way they got ahead and the result to see it through."
Austin had the first lead, but after a red card early in the second half, it was all RSL, with the home squad putting seven shots on goal to just three from Austin.
Bobby Wood had an early chance in the seventh minute when a ground cross from Maikel Chang found him right in the middle of the 18-yard box, but the ensuing shot was parried away by the Austin goalkeeper.
The away team took the lead in the 24th minute when Alexander Ring slotted home a left-footed shot from the left side of the box at a narrow angle, just finding its way past Zac MacMath.
RSL had a pair of point-blank chances in the box itself in the 34th minute, but Sergio Cordova's attempt was saved over the crossbar and Marcelo Silva's shot off of a corner sailed right over the goal, sending Austin into the break up 1-0.
"My message at halftime was, 'We're tired. They're twice as tired,'" Mastroeni said. "'They're gonna feel in the 60th minute, nothing changes. Stay the course. Be brave, and you're going to find your way into the game and when we get a goal, nothing changes. Stay the course."
The second half began with fireworks, figuratively, as Austin midfielder Daniel Pereira was sent off in the 47th minute for a tackle on Wood just outside the box. The resulting free kick from Justin Meram was sent straight into the wall, however, and another shot from Wood soon after was once again saved by Austin's keeper.
RSL continued to attack with numbers on its side, and the advantage paid off in the 55th minute with a goal from Chang to tie the game at 1-1. Meram dribbled up the wing and found Chang on a run to the edge of the six-yard box and Chang calmly slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner.
The goal was just the team's second in the last five matches, and the first to come during the run of play. The only other score since April 9 came off of a corner kick.
Super-sub Anderson Julio came on in the 64th minute for Wood as RSL looked for an attacking spark to take the advantage. Julio went down in the box late in the game, but the referee waved it off, much to the chagrin of the Riot Tinto crowd.
The game-winner eventually came for RSL in the 88th minute, as Julio's cross found its way to the feet of Brody on the edge of the box and the homegrown player, recently signed to a four-year extension, curled one in to the upper 90 to put the home team up 2-1.
"I saw (Anderson Julio) get the ball in space down the line and I saw a lot and their team just dropping off, nobody really was watching out for the top of the box," Brody said of his goal. "I just followed the play and (Julio) cut a perfect ball back for me, perfect on my right foot. The big thing was just get it on target, put it on frame hit it, hit it hard, hit it with confidence. I'm at a loss for words, (it was) super, super special."
The crowd ate it up, including former RSL captain and all-time great MLS goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who celebrated from his box at Rio Tinto.
RSL is now tied for fourth in the west with LA Galaxy and hits the road next to take on Montreal on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. MDT.