Vancouver came to Salt Lake Saturday night with hopes of closing the gap between third and second place in the Western Conference standings. Just so happens RSL was trying to widen that same gap. With just one loss in their last six games, Vancouver's confidence was high. But Real Salt Lake's own confidence is gaining and while the Whitecaps put up a good fight, it wasn't enough to overcome Javier Morales and company, who battled the Whitecaps to a 2-1 win in front of a near sell-out crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Game Stats

Match Info

Referee: Kevin Stott
Attendance: 18,702

Score
2-1, RSL

Goals
Real Salt Lake (Saborio 34' PK, Saborio 58', Morales, Grabavoy assist) Vancouver (Mattocks 52', Sanvezzo assist)

Cards
Jay DeMerit, Yellow 33'
Joe Cannon, Red 76'
Mattocks, Yellow 86'

Real Salt Lake | Van. Whitecaps
10 Attempts on Goal 13
2 Shots on Target 3
5 Shots off Target 10
3 Blocked Shots 0
3 Corner Kicks 5
13 Fouls 14
10 Open Play Crosses 13
7 Offsides 1
0 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 1
45 Duels Won 40
53% Duels Won % 46%
425 Total Pass 325
84% Passing Accuracy % 79%
56.2% Possession 43.8%

Nick Rimando (GK)

Coming off his fine performance last week against Colorado, Nick seemed to still be in the zone. His distribution, once again, was near perfect. Vancouver's 3-forward attack tested him a number of times, the scariest came when Nick held a ball at his feet a moment too long and Vancouver's Darren Mattocks met his eventual kick mid-air, deflecting it dangerously close to the right post. Mattocks pestered Nick all night long with his speed and impeccable timing and finally beat him in the 52nd minute to equalize. Nick held strong the rest of the match, adding 2 more saves to his stat-sheet and sending perhaps the best ball out of the box all year, that found Javier Morales 3/4 of the way down the field glued to the sideline, where he was able to bring it down in one touch and send it to a waiting Alvaro Saborio who came close to completing his second hat trick of the year.

MIN 90
SHT 0
SV 2
GA 1
A 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Tony Beltran (DEF)

Tony was once again solid. He's honing his arsenal adding to his speed and agility, patience and field vision. The key now, as any FIFA 2012 gamer can tell you, is knowing when and where to use them. For the most part Saturday, Tony used them well. One moment, in the closing minutes of the first half, he put them all on display. Kenny Mansally had won the ball in the middle of the field with space before him. Tony, seeing Kenny's left side open up, used his speed to come across the field into the vacated space where he took a pass around the 30' yard area where he took a crack at goal that sailed wide right. Tony seemed, in the second half, to be the only one who could stay with Darren Mattocks, winning every challenge where the two met.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 2
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: A

Nat Borchers (DEF)

The last time Kenny Masally and Kwame Watson-Siriboe started for RSL it was disastrous. But they didn't have Nat Borchers on the line directing traffic. Both looked much more comfortable Saturday night. 100% attributable to Nat Borchers vocal and physical presence. Unfortunately, it was Nat who proved to be the weak link in Real's back line. He just couldn't handle the speed of Vancouver's blazing hot Darren Mattocks, who's perfectly timed 52nd minute run beat both Borchers and Rimando. Nat redeemed himself moments later when Dane Richards flanked Kenny Mansally and was headed for goal only to have his shot cut out by a sliding Nat Borchers.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B-

Kwame Watson Siriboe (DEF)

Kwame had one or two missteps Saturday night, one that almost turned to goal in the 72nd minute when he went to ground too early against an on-rushing Camilo. But thanks to his defensive mates, especially Borchers and Rimando, they weren't damaging. That said, his play was much improved over his last start. Encouraging, for a Chris Schuler-less RSL.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B-

Kenny Mansally (DEF)

Mansally got the start in place of Chris Wingert, who was available from the bench, but was most likely being held out in preparation for RSL's upcoming CONCACAF Champion's League game in Costa Rica. Kreis may also have been eager to show a new look with his newly deep roster, matching Mansally's speed to Vancouver's newly acquired speedster, Dane Richards. Kenny lost Dane a couple of times in the second half and was lucky enough to find Nat Borchers covering his back. Sadly, Kenny wasn't there when Nat needed him to cover after being beat by the speedy Darren Mattocks in the 52nd minute.

MIN 72
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: B

Kyle Beckerman (MID)

Kyle may not have scored the goal, but he made the play that gave RSL it's first score in the 32nd minute when he went up strong in the box for a Fabian Espindola cross but was met midair by his out-of-control MLS All-Star teammate, Vancouver's Jay DeMerit, who knocked him to the ground inside the six-yard box. Alvaro Saborio took the PK and placed it perfectly just inside the left corner to put Real up 1-0. Given Beckerman had just played in and flown home from the MLS All-Star game two nights ago, his fitness was was first-rate as he and Will Johnson dominated play at the center line.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 3
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: A

Will Johnson (MID)

To combat Vancouver's 4-3-3 attacking formation, RSL played more of a square midfield Saturday night than their usual diamond formation, dropping Will Johnson back square with Kyle Beckerman in a holding midfield role. It suited Will's style and gave Javier Morales and Luis Gil an opportunity dip deeper into Vancouver's half and play off each other to control the attack across Vancouver's defensive line. Will did find an opportunity in the first half to press forward for an ambitious crack at goal from 30 yards out that sailed way high-right.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: A

Javier Morales (MID)

Javier Morales has done an amazing thing these past few games. He's found his MVP form again after recovering from an almost year-long broken-ankle rehab. But that's not just what impresses. He's found a way to use his size (small) and speed to hide, decoy, deflect and generally avoid being man-handled by every team who think's they've found the formula to take him out of a game. Javier's ability to possess the ball is off-the charts good and his field vision and passing are not far behind, and when he can stay active on the field, he cannot be defended. At least not adequately. Saturday was no exception. He was involved in every threatening play in a meaningful way, including the scintillating cross that earned him an assist when Alvaro Saborio shook his defender in the 6-yard box and nailed it past Vancouver keeper, Joe Cannon in the 58th minute. Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman or even Fabian Espindola could have been called out as such, but Saturday, Javier was my Man of the Match.

MIN 90
G 0
A 1
SHT 3
SOG 0
CK 3
OF 2
FC 2
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: A
Man of the Match

Luis Gil (MID)

Luis makes a difference in the starting eleven by finding creative ways to link up with Javier Morales and even Espindola and Saborio. He wasted no time linking up with Morales in the 11th minute at the top of the 18-yard box and cracking a scintillating ball just inches over the crossbar. Luis figured into much of the rest of Real's dominance during the first 2/3 of the game but was subbed out for Ned Grabavoy in the 56th minute.

MIN 56
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 1

Cards: None

Grade:

Fabian Espindola (MID)

Nobody can fault Fabian for his work-rate. He can destroy a defensive line with it and he can often be found creating something from nothing. The other side of the coin sometimes finds Fabi out of position or second guessing the game. If you're Jason Kreis you just have to hope the positives outweigh the miscues. And they usually do. Saturday was no exception. It was Espindola's work rate in the 76th minute that found him streaking goal-ward with only Vancouver's goalie, Joe Cannon, to beat that allowed him to lure Cannon out of the box where he handled the ball and was ejected, leaving Vancouver with only 10 men and little hope of earning an equalizer, let alone a game winner.

MIN 85
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 1
FC 1
FS 1

Cards: None

Grade: A-

Alvaro Saborio (MID)

Alvaro Saborio continued his hot streak Saturday night at the RioT when in the 34th minute he cooly slotted home a low, left-angled screamer from the PK spot after Kyle Beckerman had been taken down inside the box by Jay DeMerit. Sabo continued to execute his game, winning balls with his back to goal then sending them forward to a streaking Espindola. But it was his perfect positioning and minute adjustments in the box in the 58th minute that saw him connect with a header off a lovely cross from Javier Morales for his second goal of the evening. Not only did it give Real the go-ahead goal, it deflated the Whitecaps attack just as they seemed to be gaining momentum off their 52nd minute equalizer.

MIN 90
G 2
A 0
SHT 2
SOG 2
CK 0
OF 4
FC 1
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: A

Ned Grabavoy (MID, SUB 56')

Ned was subbed on in place of Luis Gil in the 56th minute and immediately had an impact, sending a hard ball wide to Javier Morales only two minutes after entering the game, in the 58th minute, when he Javi a hard arching ball into the box for a waiting Alvaro Saborio to hatchet past Joe Cannon with his head. Grabavoy was credited with the second assist. Kreis just may have found a winning combo, starting Gil and bringing Grabavoy off the bench in an attacking role. It will be very interesting to see if he gives it another shot in the upcoming CONCACAF Champion's League game on Tuesday or next week against MSL foe, Colorado on August 4th.

MIN 34
G 0
A 1
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 1

Cards: None

Grade: A

Yordany Alvarez (MID, SUB 85')

Espindola came off in the 85th minute to make way for Yordany Alvarez, a move which seemed aimed at both saving Fabi for Tuesday's CONCACAF Champion's League game and to sure-up Real's defense to close out the game with the 1-goal advantage. Alvarez proved beneficial in helping RSL counter Vancouver's 6-man offensive press.

MIN 5
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Chris Wingert (DEF, SUB 72')

Chris was subbed on in place of Kenny Mansally and whether it was Chris' veteran play, Vancouver's depletion to 10 men or Mansally wearing out Richards, Chris locked down the left wing the rest of the night. Pushing out any and all efforts from Vancouver to mount an attack from their right.

MIN 18
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: A-