SALT LAKE CITY — The hot streak continues for Real Salt Lake, and the latest triumph includes picking up a vital three road points.
Forward Corey Baird scored a pair of goals as RSL overcame an early 1-0 deficit to deliver the visitors a 2-1 win Saturday over Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.
“It’s a big win for us. Coming into this game, the talk was having a good road mentality. I thought the boys played fantastic tonight,” RSL assistant coach Tyrone Marshall said during the KMYU TV broadcast postgame. “We went down early, but we showed resilience. We’ve been in the trenches before, and we’ve come out on the wrong side of those games. This showed our character tonight.”
Real improved to 5-1-3 in its past nine Major League Soccer games in its final contest without head coach Mike Petke, who served a three-game suspension. RSL jumped to the No. 6 spot in the MLS Western Conference standings with 37 points, leaping FC Dallas (36) and into a tie with L.A. Galaxy.
Sporting KC grabbed the early lead, going up 1-0 in the 31st minute when Johnny Russell scored on a set piece. Russell netted his eighth goal of the season by arching a shot around the RSL wall and inside the post, just beyond the reach of a diving Nick Rimando.
That set the stage for Baird to deliver his team to the win.
RSL got the equalizer in the 38th minute. Albert Rusnak hit a free kick off the post — following a foul on Andreu Fontas just outside the box — and Baird collected the rebound in front of the net and slammed it past Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia to make it 1-all.
Baird then got the brace in the 70th minute to give RSL the 2-1 edge. Real forward Jefferson Savarino sent a long pass to Baird, who controlled the ball that bounced off his chest, then fired a left-footed shot into the far side of the net for his third goal of the season.
Marshall mentioned Baird is one of those players who needs to get in a rhythm, something the assistant coach hadn't seen from him in previous games.
Some rest for Baird earlier ended up paying off Saturday night.
"I’m glad to see Corey in good form now. This is when we want guys to be clicking. I thought he was engaged tonight. He was active, getting behind runs. That was the Corey we saw last year, and that’s the Corey we want going forward. That’s what we got tonight. Kudos to him, I’m excited for him," Marshall said.
It was the second game in a row RSL conceded the first goal, then went on to win.
“That’s the mentality of this group. It’s not so easy two times straight that we turn the game,” RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach said during the KMYU broadcast. “It shows that every one of us is on the same page. This is how you have to work, how you have to learn and how you have to play until the end.”Comment on this story
KC played the final minutes of the game a man down after Daniel Salloi was dealt a red card for a spikes-up challenge in the 84th minute on Kreilach. While Sporting KC controlled the time of possession, 58% to 42% for RSL, visiting Real owned a 6-3 edge in shots on goal.
Kreilach talked about how crucial the win was in the middle of a playoff chase, not only in giving a critical three points in the standings, but also preventing Sporting from picking up points at home. It was RSL’s third road win of the year, as it improved to 3-7-3 away from Utah.
“We just have to stay humble, work hard and go step by step. I know we have like 10 games to the end, and we will give the best of us,” Kreilach said.