SANDY, UTAH (AP) -- Real Salt Lake appears to have rediscovered
its dominance at the right time.
Alvaro Saborio scored two goals to lift Salt Lake to a 3-0
victory over the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of their
Western Conference semifinals series Saturday night.
Salt Lake did not allow a single shot on goal through 90
minutes, and Ned Grabavoy tacked on a late goal to give Salt
Lake a three-goal advantage going into the second and final leg
of the series on Wednesday.
"We wanted to make a 90-plus effort tonight," Salt Lake
goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "We know we get our offensive
chances when we play good defense."
Salt Lake controlled possession and pressed the attack
throughout much of the first half. The aggressive play resulted
in some early scoring chances.
Saborio finally took advantage in the 42nd minute. With
goalkeeper Kasey Keller out of position, Saborio took a pass
from Chris Wingert and tapped the ball across the line.
Saborio came up big again in the 53rd minute. He took a pass
from Javier Morales after a throw-in and flicked the ball around
Seattle defender Jeff Parke with his back heel and sent it into
"I'm so happy he put himself in the right spot," Wingert said.
"He's a guy that can step up like that and score a couple of
goals like that in big games."
Grabavoy capped off the scoring in the 89th minute when he
tracked down a poorly cleared ball, shook off a defender and
slotted the ball inside the right post.
It represented the most complete effort in all facets of the
game that Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has seen from his team in
several months. Kreis felt particularly pleased with how well
the team shut down Seattle's potent offense.
"We're all going to walk away from here feeling really good
about the soccer that was played and the passes and the
effective passing in the box," Kreis said. "But I'm going to
walk away feeling very proud about what the guys put into it
defensively. We know inside our locker room that our attacking
abilities and our pretty soccer comes from working hard
There were doubts that Salt Lake could regain the dominant form
it showed early in the season after failing win over the final
two months of the regular season. No one in the locker room felt
surprised at the outcome. Salt Lake had all of its best players
healthy and playing together for the first time in several
With the roster back to normal, Salt Lake is ready to prove it
can be an MLS title contender once again.
"This is a veteran group," Grabavoy said. "I thought the light
would turn on."