RSL has now won seven straight matches in all competitions, and is 10-1-1 including U.S. Open Cup since May.
The lone goal of the match arrived just before halftime when Alvarez launched a rocket of a shot from outside the box that beat TFC keeper Joe Bendik and found the inside of the far post. In addition to extending Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak to six games and ending Toronto's three-game undefeated run, the tally by the Cuban midfielder marked the first-ever goal scored by RSL in Toronto.
By picking up their first-ever victory in Canada, Real Salt Lake ensured that they will at the least remain in a tie for first place in the Western Conference with 33 points from 18 games. RSL was winless in ten matches north of the border.
“It’s good, it’s always been difficult," said head coach Jason Kreis. "This year for some reason it’s been very, very quiet. It seems odd to me because the first couple years you literally couldn’t talk to anybody because it was so loud. So the atmosphere’s become a little bit more playable for us. Maybe that has some contribution to the win today.”
Kreis ran out a bit of an unusual starting lineup on Saturday, resting several regulars as he navigates the team through a busy stretch of four games in 12 days. The Claret-and-Cobalt also changed formation, departing from its usual 4-1-2-1-2 setup in favor of a 4-3-3.
The game took something of a turn when both teams went down to ten men in 79th minute following a melee set off after a clash between Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran and Toronto's Luis Silva. Beltran pushed Silva -- who, in replays, appeared to kick out at Beltran -- and Toronto central defender Doneil Henry then shoved Beltran to the ground. Both Beltran and Henry earned straight red cards.
“We had to shift shape, when you go from 11 to 10 players you have to think about how to handle that situation, so we dropped into a 4-4-1 with four midfielders," said Kreis. "I don’t know there would be any other way to handle that situation differently.”
Toronto came extremely close to scoring an equalizer during injury time, first on an initial play in which forward Jeremy Brockie headed a cross from Braun from close range before Rimando came up with a stellar reaction save to preserve the victory. Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers then cleared the ball off the goal line less than a minute later and TFC defender Steven Caldwell scuffed a shot on open net from in close in the final seconds of the game.
“I love Toronto," said Rimando, who recorded his 105th career shutout. "They have great fans. They have some good one-liners out there and you know the goalkeepers have to sit there and listen to all the fans. They are good to play in front of, they have some good fans. The field was a bit slow for me this time. It seemed like a hot heavy slow field. We couldn’t get the rhythm that we wanted to. You could tell the game was slow, I don’t know if it’s because the weather or the field just didn’t take the water in. But I love playing up here it’s a great city with great support and the fans are awesome.”
Real Salt Lake will be back in action at home on Wednesday, July 3 against the Philadelphia Union. The match begins at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised on CW30.