Beckham-less Galaxy next on tap for RSL

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

With the sun setting on its playoff hopes, Real Salt Lake found a way to freeze time — if only for a few weeks.

RSL found resurgence in the offensive third to beat Kansas City 3-1 Wednesday night and stop its slide out of the playoff picture. The scoring explosion contradicts Real’s season-long offensive inadequacy and gives charge to playoff aspirations.

The offense was anchored by Real’s three newest acquisitions: Argentines Fabian Espindola, Matias Mantilla and Javier Morales.

Mantilla scored the fastest goal in RSL history 40 seconds into the match by heading Morales’ corner kick inside the far post for the 1-0 lead.

Real kept pressure on the Wizards’ defense throughout the first half with six shots on goal compared to Kansas City’s one.

The persistence paid off in the 42nd minute when Espindola received a well-placed assist from Alecko Eskandarian and dutifully blasted the ball into the net.

The Argentines started off brilliantly for Real. Morales tallied an assist in his debut, Mantilla scored a goal in his first start and Espindola scored a goal in his second start.

“All three of them showed that they have special ability,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis.

The Argentines — as dangerous as they were — did not fuel the offense alone.

Andy Williams placed a 50-yard shot into the net in the 85th minute to seal the victory and post his first score of the season.

Kyle Beckerman and Eskandarian also contributed effective play in the offensive third, forcing Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to work hard between the posts.

“I can tell you that this team doesn’t deserve to be in last place,” Mantilla said of his new club.

Mantilla added defensively to Real’s efforts as well.

Alongside Eddie Pope in the backline, Mantilla helped Real control the Wizard attack for most of the night and made life easier for goalie Nick Rimando.

“I’m really happy to play with someone of Eddie Pope’s caliber,” Mantilla said.

The win boosted Real up one spot in the Western Conference standings, one point in front of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Out of the cellar that it has called home most of the season, RSL (3-11-6) looks to preserve its position on Saturday when it faces the Galaxy (3-10-5) in Los Angeles.

“If we play like this we are going to rise up,” Mantilla said.

Saturday presents a terrific opportunity to do so against the team with the now-worst record in the league.

What’s more, the Galaxy will be playing without its newest star, David Beckham.

The British phenomenon sprained his right knee in a Superliga play against Pachua on Wednesday.Beckham — who has posted one goal and three assists in his three MLS games — estimated after the game that he could miss as much as 4 to 6 weeks of competition.

The next team in Real’s sights is Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado. RSL must continue to surpass teams in order to reach the postseason by gaining much-needed points.

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