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Sandy • Real Salt Lake is in foreign territory.
And that's good. Really good.
For the first time in the franchise's nine-year existence, Real Salt Lake is into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals following its 3-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL coach Jason Kreis said the focus is on hoisting a title, not breaking down barriers.
"I'm pleased, but it means nothing to me to be in the semifinal," said Kreis after his 100th career coaching win. "It means something to me to win the whole thing. We're another step closer."
The franchise has won it all, raising the MLS Cup in 2009, and went as far as the CONCACAF Champions League final in 2011, but had never cracked the final four in the U.S. Open Cup.
In 2006 and 2011, RSL reached the quarterfinals but was nudged out.
Now, the team is one match away from playing for another major North American championship.
"Winning and losing, it's contagious," said captain Kyle Beckerman. "We'd rather be winning and building that momentum."
Kreis wanted the win, and that was clear when he sent out a top-flight starting XI to give the franchise its best shot at making history. Having just beaten Seattle 2-0 at home Saturday and with an impending cross-country trek to Toronto in two days, Real Salt Lake's coach knew the circumstances.
Goals from defenders Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert were more than enough to kill off the game, but Alvaro Saborio's goal in the 86th minute was the cherry on top of the evening.
Substitute Olmes Garcia chased down a long ball from Ned Grabavoy and saw a streaking Saborio heading for the near post. In typical Saborio fashion, he flicked the ball to the far post with his head, the ball spinning into the back of the net while he celebrated with teammates.
"He's a guy that just thrives on confidence and momentum," Kreis said of Saborio. "I thought it was really, really critical that he had a goal tonight."
After playing consecutive extra-time matches against lower-tier opponents at home, RSL ensured the clock at Rio Tinto Stadium would not pass 90. And now, the team they're knotted with in the Western Conference standings awaits.
"We still have a ways to go, but if we can learn lessons while we're winning, that's a good thing," Beckerman said.
Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers will meet for the first time this season on Aug. 7 in Sandy for an opportunity to move on to the Open Cup final.
"We're two games away from winning another trophy. We're two games away from being back in Champions League," Beltran said. "We want to bring trophies and championships to this club."
RSL 3, Carolina 0
O Tony Beltran scores his second ever goal with RSL in the 35th minute, and fellow fullback Chris Wingert adds another in the 50th.
• RSL's Jason Kreis earns his 100th career coaching win.
• RSL will face Portland on Aug. 7 for a chance to advance to the Open Cup final.
MORE COVERAGE • Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert contribute rare goals from the defense. > D4
RSL 3, Railhawks 0
Carolina RailHawks 0 0 0
Real Salt Lake 1 2 2
First half • 1, Real Salt Lake, Beltran, 35th
Second half • 2, Real Salt Lake, Wingert, 50th; 3, Saborio, 86th
Carolina RailHawks • Akira Fitzgerald, Kupono Low, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Jordan Graye, Austen King, Eddi Ababio (Cesar Elizondo, 61st), Justin Willis (Brian Shriver, 61st), Jonathan Greenfield (Austin Da Luz, 79th), Nick Millington, Ciaran O'Brien, Brian Ackley
Real Salt Lake • Josh Saunders, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Yordany Alvarez, 79th), Khari Stephenson (Olmes Garcia, 79th), Robbie Findley (Joao Plata, 64th), Alvaro Saborio