SANDY, Utah – What began at a trot turned into a wild race to the finish line at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, as Real Salt Lake beat FC Dallas 3-2 courtesy of a late game-winner from defender Nat Borchers.
The scoring capped off a second-half frenzy that saw Alvaro Saborio get a brace for the hosts while Blas Perez and Matt Hedges found the back of the net for FC Dallas.
Both squads came into the match with key absences and it showed in the early minutes of the game, but as the minutes wore on each showed more purpose and that would really manifest itself late in the second half.
However, the first chance in the opening half came courtesy of a nice set up by Will Johnson, who split a defender and chipped a pass to Ned Grabavoy. The veteran let the ball settle and then took a blast from 12 yards, but FCD ‘keeper Kevin Hartman was able to parry it away.
The game would finally open up in the 59th minute when substitute right back Terukazu Tanaka delivered a cross into the area that found Saborio ghosting across the six yard area. The Costa Rican was able to head it past Hartman for the 1-0 lead.
The real flurry, however, came in the last fifteen minutes, and it started with an unlikely source.
Hedges, making just his fourth start in the FCD defense, crept into the area on a restart. He was in perfect position to pounce on a loose ball when RSL failed to clear a Zach Loyd chip, and his blast just cleared the line before ‘keeper Kyle Reynish could parry it out.
A minute later however, Saborio got his second goal of the match as he beat the Dallas defense in the right channel after some neat build-up from Grabavoy and sub Johnny Steele. Saborio’s 15-yard blast deflected off of Hedges and beat Hartman to the near post.
But Dallas showed determination and pulled level again in the 85th minute. This time it was Perez, who appeared to be well marked at the top of the area. He nonetheless contrived space to turn and blast directly at Reynish, who watched in horror as the ball slipped through his fingers and into the net.
That left it up to Borchers to provide the dramatic finish three minutes into stoppage. With RSL pushing almost everyone forward, Borchers found himself unmarked eight yards from goal after the ball bounced around in a chaotic sequence in the area. That left Borchers all the time in the world to line up a shot and curl it into the side netting with his right foot.
The result keeps RSL unbeaten in the last six matches as they are currently at 29 points with a 9-3-2 record, temporarily landing them in first place in the West. Dallas are winless in their last nine matches currently with 13 points and a 3-8-4 record .
Both squads will enjoy a break over the next couple of weeks for international dates. FC Dallas will visit Houston on June 16th, while Real Salt Lake will be at Chivas USA.