for this game

Morales, Findley push RSL atop Western Conference

Jul 13, 2008 - 4:39 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- For the first time in franchise history, Real Salt Lake is in first place in the Western Conference.

Javier Morales and Robbie Findley each scored goals Saturday, helping Real Salt Lake continued its home dominance with a 2-0 victory over the visiting Columbus Crew.

Real Salt Lake (6-6-5) improved to 5-0-5 at Rice-Eccles Stadium this season while moving past the Los Angeles Galaxy (6-6-4) and Chivas USA (6-6-4), who played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

"It's great that we got there, but the main thing is getting three points tonight," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "Right now, it's not really the most important time to be in first place. That'll be the end of the year.

"But it's big, that we can actually do it. We've wanted to be in this position since the start of the season, and to get there, it's a big feat. But we just need to keep going and keep learning and keep getting better."

After entering the game in the 64th minute, Findley gave Real Salt Lake a major offensive boost and ultimately sealed Columbus' fate.

In the 78th minute, the speedy forward took a pass from Kenny Deuchar - also a late second-half substitution - and used his speed to get past his defender before blasting a shot inside the top right corner of the net.

"It was a good flick by Deuchar," Findley said. "I was able to get in behind the defense, and I saw the keeper coming out. I touched it by him and it was an easy finish."

It was Findley's fourth goal of the season and help end any thought the Crew had of making a comeback, something Columbus (8-5-3) had done in each of its last two matches.

Morales opened the scoring just four minutes into the contest, hammering a direct kick just under the crossbar from 12 feet out.

"It was doctor's orders," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I said it amongst the staff that this game needed an early goal, and if we could score an early goal, that would make all the difference. So to score one that early was quite nice."

But after withstanding that goal and a flurry of offensive chances from Real Salt Lake in the first half - including a 10-4 shot disadvantage - Columbus became the aggressor, dominating the first 15 minutes of the second half, though never quite capitalizing on its chances.

"I don't think I did anything today," said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who needed to make just two saves. "It was all the back line. (Defender Nat) Borchers was huge for us today. They (the Crew) didn't have anything. We destroyed them on every set piece and with any ball over the top. ... It made my job real easy today."

However, Findley's arrival into the game seemed to trigger a transfer of aggression as he put together two strong scoring chances before finally capitalizing minutes later to give his club a two-goal advantage.

"That was the whole point," Findley said of his role coming off the bench rather than in the starting lineup. "Coach said that he was going to bring (Deuchar and himself) on late - when they were tired - and it worked out."

With the victory, Salt Lake is now unbeaten against the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, having defeated New England, D.C. United and Columbus, while settling for a draw with Chicago.








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