That alone is cause for celebration in Salt Lake, but the manner in which the side won will also give Salt Lake fans a lot of optimism going into this season.
Here are a few key RSL takeaways from Sunday’s match:
- Defense started shaky, but improved – The back four that started had never played an MLS minute as a group before Sunday. It showed in the first half. However, a quick reflex-save from Nick Rimando and a few missed shots from Chris Wondolowski bailed them out and kept the match scoreless. In the second half, they improved dramatically and earned the 0 on the scoreboard.
- The speedy attack is working – Salt Lake sent away a proven goal scorer in Fabian Espindola, the Timbers’ eventual captain in Will Johnson, and a talented, but pricey, defender in Jamison Olave in order to get faster up top. The speed of Robbie Findley and Joao Plata helped Salt Lake get two goals after finishing last season on a five-match scoring drought. Most notably, both spent substantial time creating opportunities for other players, which Alvaro Saborio capitalized on.
- Gil is stepping up – He had an excellent qualifying tournament with the Under 20 National Team and kept it going in San Jose with a brilliant cut-back that nearly gave Salt Lake an early score. Expect him to be a big contributor this year.
- Watson-Siriboe’s athleticism is a huge asset – He used it repeatedly in leaping to win balls. He’s not as refined as Schuler or Borchers, but his physical talents can cover up many mistakes.
- Morales is still a necessity – The Salt Lake attack still isn’t the same without the talented Argentine pulling the strings. This may change as the season wears on, but Javi still does not have a replacement or an heir-apparent.