Losing consecutive games is unsual for Real Salt Lake, which won the MLS Cup two years ago. That's why their recent two-game slide was so troubling.
Nat Borchers and Luis Gil each scored in the first half to lead Salt Lake to a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Friday night. Alvaro Saborio scored on a penalty kick in the 77th minute and Kyle Beckerman had two assists to help Salt Lake (10-5-6) end a 200-minute scoring drought.
"This isn't a team that is used to losing," Borchers said. "When we do lose games in a row, we take it very seriously. The message from Jason (Kreis) was that we needed to come out and show some signs of life."
New York (6-6-12) lost starting goalkeeper Frank Rost with a strained quad in the first half, and midfielder Jan Gunnar Soli also went down with the same injury in the second half.
Borchers opened up the scoring in the 13th minute. Kyle Beckerman directed a corner kick to the defender at the left post, and Borchers got his head on the ball and bounced it across the goal line.
Right before halftime, the 17-year-old Gil took a pass from Beckerman and scored on a right-footer for his first career goal in MLS play.
"It changes the game, " Gil said. "It makes them come out differently and with a different mentality. It gives us a little bit more freedom."
Salt Lake had a high volume of energy from the start. The team was sharp when it came to controlling possession and did a good job of making the Red Bulls run around in circles in a futile effort to get at the ball.
For Kreis, it was evidence his team rediscovered the right way to play soccer.
"There's a reason we play the way we do in our tactical shape," the Salt Lake coach said. "There's a methodology about who we are. There's a very clear definition about when we want to win the ball and where we want to win the ball. I felt like we really got away from that in the last two games."
A positive result offers a nice boost of confidence going forward for Salt Lake, which will spend the rest of August playing on the road. Kreis feels like it could be a real turning point in the team's up-and-down season.
"Seasons are sometimes made and broken based on confidence," Kreis said.