SANDY, Utah -- For one match, Real Salt Lake finally resembled the team opponents came to fear when playing in Utah.
Salt Lake spent a bulk of 90 minutes against Tauro FC controlling possession, dictating tempo and creating a flurry of shots. In the end, it yielded a much needed positive result for a team that has not had much of them this month.
Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman each scored in the second half to lead RSL to a 2-0 win over Tauro in CONCACAF group play Tuesday night.
The win over the Panamanian club keeps RSL in the hunt to win its group and advance to the tournament's knockout stage.
"We looked like our old selves where we really pinned the other team and they couldn't get out," Beckerman said. "We were creating chance after chance."
Winning came at a price, though, as Beckerman was shown a red card and ejected in the 72nd minute. He will sit out Salt Lake's next CONCACAF match.
It dealt a big blow on a play Beckerman, his teammates and head coach Jason Kreis did not feel was worthy of a red card. Beckerman went to play a ball in the air and got tangled up with a Tauro player approaching from his blind side.
A moment later, he was sent off to the locker room.
"The ball was in the air and it was coming from one side to another," Beckerman said. "I'm going to play the ball and this guy comes into my blind spot and runs into my foot. He rolls around like he got shot, which is standard CONCACAF. I really didn't see him at all."
After a frustrating first half, RSL finally scored in the 48th minute on a goal from Saborio. Paulo Jr. cut up the middle of the penalty area and tried to slip the ball past Tauro goalkeeper Alvaro Anzola. He got a hand on the ball and knocked it outside the 6-yard box, where Saborio gathered it and chipped in to make it 1-0.
Beckerman made it 2-0 in the 58th. He faked out a Tauro defender to create an opening just outside the top of the area, firing the ball inside the right post for the goal.
"We make a point to really try to keep the tempo high in the first half," Kreis said. "We feel like if we do that, then often times the work we put in the first 15, 20 or 30 minutes can lead to big benefits at the end of games because of the altitude."
Things unfolded in the first half almost exactly how RSL would have drawn it up in practice. Salt Lake controlled possession from the opening whistle. It created one scoring chance after another and kept Tauro's defense on its heels for 45 minutes.
The only problem for RSL was the team's finishing touch. Salt Lake produced 11 shots and put four of those attempts on frame in the first half, but none found the back of the net.
Perhaps the most painful near-miss came in the 36th when midfielder Ned Grabavoy launched a shot in traffic from just outside the penalty area. With Anzola out of position, Grabavoy tried to slot the ball inside the left post. Instead, his shot bounced off the post and out of frame to keep RSL off the scoreboard before halftime.
"We were right on the brink of driving ourselves to madness with frustration for not scoring a goal in the first half after so many chances," Kreis said. "Good to see the guys stuck with it and got the winner early in the second half. It was a fairly simple matter of finishing out the game -- with the one wrinkle of the ejection."