It couldn’t have started the second half much better.
“We talked about the two ways Dallas scores on you: set plays and counter attacks. We went over it and couldn't deal with a corner kick, and they got us on a counter attack. It's a little bit naive of us, and hopefully we'll learn from it and move on," said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar.
FC Dallas overcame a late first half ejection with an early second half goal en route to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at Toyota Stadium.
Playing with 10 men in the second half after forward Blas Perez was given his second yellow card for a dive, Je’Vaughn Watson scored in the 50th minute off a FC Dallas corner and inform Fabian Castillo added a necessary insurance goal in the 74th minute.
"We weren't sharp enough. We weren't patient enough. It was almost like we panicked when they scored the first goal and we're trying to push really hard to get the goal. It just wasn't a mature effort in the second half," said Real Salt Lake goal keeper Nick Rimando.
The hosts, which extended their MLS unbeaten streak to 10 games, move into a three-way, 42 point tie atop the Western Conference with Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake.
"We get a rematch at our place so hopefully we can respond well next week and stay with the pack that seems to be getting out up front, and get another crack at Dallas in Salt Lake and see if we can do better," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman.
The point-streak, though, was in serious jeopardy after a scoreless first 45 minutes.
Perez, who picked up a yellow card in the 31st minute for unsporting behavior, was fouled by Real Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler just before half.
“Both of his cards came from contact off the ball, basically, so I don't know. That's up to the referees to decide, but it seemed like he [Perez] didn't have to do any of that, but I thought he did fall down for no reason," said Cassar.
Schuler went over the head of Perez about 30 yards from goal to try to win a ball but sent Perez to the ground. The FC Dallas forward sprang up, got in the face of Schuler and the defender put a two-handed shove into Perez.
The forward dramatically fell into his back, and he was shown yellow for his theatrics. Schuler was given a caution for his shove, but the momentum was firmly on the visitor’s side before Watson’s go-ahead goal.
As Real Salt Lake moved forward the final 40 minutes, Castillo utilized his speed and a pressed-forward midfield to slot home a 74thminute goal and put the game away. Castillo has a goal or assist in each of his past seven MLS games.
He has nine goals on the season, which puts him in the top 10 of the league. In his past 11 competitions, which includes the U.S. Open Cup, he has 10 total goals.
"We felt like, even though we went up a man, we still had to be wary of their danger, and it's just unfortunate we gave them a set-piece goal. I think that gave them a lot of confidence, and really got them to defend as a unit and put [Fabian] Castillo up top and let them just counter and counter. That's what happened and it worked to a 'T' for them," said Beckerman
FC Dallas wasted a pair of chances to go ahead before Perez’s ejection in the first half, th
Fabian Castillo, who entered the game with a goal or assist in each of the past six games, had a close shot saved by diving Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 22nd minute.
Tesho Akindele, who scored a hat trick last weekend against San Jose, couldn’t find the open net nine minutes later when he deked Rimando at the top of the box, but couldn’t create enough space to fire a shot at the open net before Rimando got back up to parry the late effort.
Real Salt Lake’s nearly leveled the game in the 56th minute when Robbie Findley headed a Luke Mulholland longball past goalkeeper Raul Fernandez but off the post.
"We felt we were in a good position, had a mental lapse on a set play then from there we were chasing the game. And FC Dallas did a good job of staying compact and disciplined and we didn't do a great job moving the ball quick enough and being dangerous and penetrating their two blocks of four. It just wasn't good enough the whole night,” said Cassar.
After a frustrating night, Real Salt Lake finally snagged a goal back in stoppage time after a Olmes Garcia bicycle kick bounced through the legs of Fernandez, but the back line steadied and preserved the three points.
"All-in-all, we weren't sharp enough,” said Rimando.