RSL defense steps up in "big" win

Beltran, Schuller key defensive effort against dynamic Dallas attack

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Photo Credit: 
Melissa Majchrzak / Real Salt Lake

SANDY, Utah — Brek Shea is one of the stars of the future both in MLS
and possibly on the international stage. Not that any of that mattered
to Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran on Saturday night, as the right
back stifled the FC Dallas attacker again and again in RSL’s 2-0 win
over FCD.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 2, Dallas 0

“Brek’s a fantastic player,” Beltran said after the match. “He’s part
of our youth movement for our national team. He’s done some very
impressive things this year. He’s got a very bright career ahead of him,
so I knew I had to be extra focused coming into this game and just be
on my toes defensively.

“It was a tough matchup, but I thought I handled him well.”

Beltran’s performance earned the praise of his entire team, most importantly, his goalkeeper, Nick Rimando.

“Tony played great, especially against one of the up-and-coming players in this league,” Rimando said.

The veteran netminder, who enjoyed a relatively quiet night thanks to
Beltran’s efforts, heaped praise on the entire backline, particularly,
young centerback Chris Schuler, who made just his 8th career start.
Schuler was in the squad in place of the suspended Nat Borchers.

“Schuler stepped in again and played well with his confidence, and
Olave stepped up again today,” Rimando said. “But I think the play of
the day was Chris [Wingert] coming back and getting that ball before it
went over the line.”

That “play of the day” was a goal-saving effort from Wingert. After
seeing Jackson sneak in alone, Wingert rushed back to clear the Dallas
attacker’s slow, rolling shot just before it could break the goal line.

“To be honest it was a little bit fortunate,” Wingert admitted. “It was
my man that got in behind. What a ball by Eric Avila — perfect chip —
and Brek took a great first touch, and second touch really. I was just
fortunate that Jackson had to reach for it, and I was able to get back
to the line. I was lucky, because if he had smashed it I would have had
no chance.”

But he didn’t smash it, and a few minutes later Fabian Espindola
confirmed the result with RSL’s second goal. The win extends the side’s
unbeaten streak to six games, and is their most impressive league result
since the 4-1 thrashing of the LA Galaxy back in March.

“We stated before the game that this was a huge, huge match for us,”
head coach Jason Kreis said. “Probably the biggest one we’ve had this
season against what I think is arguably the team that’s in the best form
right now. To get all three points at home was big for us.”