Sandy, UT – It is often said that the mark of a great team is the ability to get three points when they're not at their best, and that was the case on Wednesday as Paulo Jr. scored from the penalty spot to help Real Salt Lake claim a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact at Rio Tinto Stadium.
It was not a pretty match by any means, but that won't be of much concern to head coach Jason Kreis as his Claret and Cobalt side makes it four wins from its opening five matches with a second straight victory.
The Impact shot themselves in the foot in conceding Wednesday's lone goal as Justin Braun blatantly handled the ball in the box after a corner kick in the 13th minute. Surprisingly, it was not leading scorer Fabian Espindola or captain Kyle Beckerman who took the kick, but instead youngster Paulo Jr. The 23-year-old converted from the spot for his first goal of the season.
The home side came within inches of doubling the lead later in the first half when a delivery from Beckerman was met by Chris Schuler at the back post, but the defender's effort skimmed the crossbar on its way out of play.
Montreal continued to push in search of a vital equalizer, but it never came as the Real Salt Lake defense worked tirelessly to thwart every advance from the visitors.
The win helps Real Salt Lake (4-1-0) take sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, improving to 12 points to move ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes. The Rio Tinto outfit will aim to continue its formidable run when it hosts the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
Montreal, on the other hand, is a world of hurt at the moment, finding life in Major League Soccer quite difficult.
The Impact (0-4-1) are still searching for their first win as they continue to struggle in front of goal - Jesse Marsch's men have managed to score just three goals in their opening five games. They will return home for a massive fixture on short rest as they welcome fellow Eastern Conference bottom-feeders Toronto FC to the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.