Sandy • Real Salt Lake played without its most dependable scorer Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Not a problem.
With Alvaro Saborio sidelined because of a shoulder injury, Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales broke prolonged personal scoring droughts, sparking RSL to a 2-1 victory over Portland.
Saborio had scored 10 of Real Salt Lake's last 17 goals, and RSL had managed only three goals in its last six games.
Given the circumstances, coach Jason Kreis was concerned about where his team would find enough offense against the Timbers.
But Espindola and Morales responded with goals, both of which came off free kicks from just outside the box.
"They were special plays," Kreis said. "Espindola's strike was fantastic and Javier one-upped him, I think."
Espindola scored in the 14th minute on a gorgeous assist by Morales. He tapped the ball to Espindola, who launched a rocket through a hole in the Timbers' wall for his first goal since June 16.
"I believe we were too close to go over the wall," Morales said. "So I told him, 'OK, stay there.' I moved the ball, and he made a great shot."
In the 36th minute, Morales made it 2-0 when he curled a shot into the top corner of the net. It was his first goal since June 23.
"Unbelievable," said RSL defender Chris Wingert. "I feel like we're the type of team that scores more in the run of play than most teams. But those were two incredible set pieces. Great strikes."
Despite losing Saborio, it was the first time Real Salt Lake had scored two goals in a league game since July 27.
"You lose a guy his caliber, and it's not ideal," Wingert said. "But we have a lot of faith in the other guys, especially up top. And fortunately tonight, two of our guys who play up there banged in two great goals."
Real Salt Lake's offense was relentless through most of the game.
Given three golden opportunities it failed to convert in the second half, RSL could have easily finished with four or five goals.
"It was nice not to make an attacking substitution to try and find a goal," Kreis said.
Individually, Espindola was robbed twice by Portland keeper Joe Bendik.
"On the different night," Kreis said, "he walks out of here with three goals. ... He was very bright around the goal."