SANDY, Utah — He may not have started Wednesday night’s game against the Houston Dynamo, but Kyle Beckerman saved the day for Real Salt Lake in the 82nd minute.
Fans welcomed Beckerman onto the pitch with cheers in the 64th minute, and it didn’t take long for the veteran player to find his groove. Eighteen minutes later, he scored a beautiful left-footed goal to seal the win for Real in front of an announced 16,613 fans in Rio Tinto Stadium, all excited to see Beckerman score his first goal of the 2018 Major League Soccer season.
Beckerman’s goal gave RSL the 2-1 win. Luis Silva notched RSL’s first score of the night in the 34th minute.
Although Beckerman initially fought back against the idea of him not starting Wednesday — even though it was so he could rest — he respected his coach’s decision and was prepared to take the field at a moment’s notice. And he was more than ready when teammate Damir Kreilach chested the ball to him.
“When I turned and looked back and saw him chest it, I was expecting someone to come and head it, but it was a great little play by him — a big-time play by him,” Beckerman said.
While RSL head coach Mike Petke hoped to not have to play Beckerman at all, he was glad to see him come through for his team.
“For him to come on in that situation and not only hold down the fort, but get the winning goal, was amazing,” Petke said. “Kyle’s our engine. Kyle’s our leader.”
Overall, RSL held a good portion of the possession at 55.9 percent.
May 30, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (5) dribbles the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez (10) defends during the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
RSL had a few solid opportunities to score in the first 20 minutes of the game, however a couple shot attempts were wide or high. Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis also did a nice job of staying on his toes to not let the ball slip by him early on.
Real Salt Lake kept attacking and eventually found some holes.
Sebastián Saucedo crossed the ball to the middle of the box right where Silva stood, and Silva’s header narrowly passed Willis on the right side of the net to give Real a 1-0 lead.
The Dynamo tried to even the score in the 42nd minute, but Nick Rimando made a brilliant save to keep the visiting squad at bay.
Kreilach had a chance to make it a two-goal game on a couple of different occasions in the second half, but his right-footed attempt on the 67th minute hit the right post. Another shot of his from the center of the box in the 69th minute was blocked.
In the 75th minute, with nearly the exact same ball placement RSL had when it scored its lone goal of the game, a cross into the middle of the box gave the Dynamo’s Alberth Elis the perfect opportunity to even things up. His header snuck by Rimando to the left side of the net to make the score 1-1.
“When I checked my shoulder initially, I had Ellis, and I’m not sure who ran out in front of me and I kind of … got caught in no man’s land,” said defender Justen Glad, shouldering the blame for the goal.
RSL took the conceded goal to heart and started to attack more aggressively from that point forward.
“It was almost a wake up call, that goal,” Petke said. “You could see it on the players face, the anger in them.”
And by virtue of a corner kick, Beckerman’s late-game heroics saved the day. His left-footed strike to the right side of the net handed RSL victory. Rimando later came up with a clutch save in the 86th minute to assure that RSL would walk away with three points.
Real Salt Lake has a quick turnaround as it welcomes Seattle to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.