By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis had challenged his side to play a complete game, and the team responded with a dominant performance that may have been its best of the season.
RSL used a brace from captain Kyle Beckerman and a goal each from Luis Gil and Devon Sandoval to steamroll the Columbus Crew, 4-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
“I think this, for me, was the most complete match we’ve played for the entire season,” said Kreis. “I think it’s fantastic that it comes a day after I challenged the group to see if we can’t get there.”
RSL opened the scoring a minute into first-half stoppage time when a fluke goal was scored by Beckerman off a Javier Morales free kick. Morales put his shot right into the Columbus wall and it deflected luckily to the foot of the Beckerman, who poked it past Columbus goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
The floodgates opened in the second half, as RSL repeatedly found themselves in and around the penalty box of a seemingly uninterested Crew side.
Sandoval slotted in a cross from RSL forward Olmes Garcia in the 51st minute, Luis Gil dummied Crew defender Josh Williams and cut his shot back across the goal in the 83rd and Beckerman got his second goal a minute before the final whistle when he fired home a deflected Sebastian Velasquez cross.
Crew captain Federico Higuain was then tossed with his second yellow in the 91st minute after assistant referee informed Silviu Petrescu of a foul committed on RSL defender Nat Borchers away from the ball. It was a fitting end to the match for a Crew side that didn’t challenge RSL all night.
For Real Salt Lake, their performance helped keep them atop the Western Conference. The hosts also set a new club record with 48 goals scored this season.
“We’ve probably done good things in every single match,” said Kreis. “But we’ve also done some really bad things in every single match.”
In this match, RSL exorcised so many of those defensive demons that have haunted them in the past and left little doubt that this was their best performance of the year.
“I feel like we picked ourselves back up but now we got to show that we can keep doing it,” said Gil. “It can’t just be one game. I know it’s at home and stuff but we’ve been moving, we’ve been playing good, we’ve been moving the ball a lot, so we just got to keep this going.”
Here are the match highlights: