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Sandy • Ultimately, new energy and a new coach was no match for the same old invincibility at home.
Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave scored first-half headers to lead the defending MLS Cup champions back from a stunning early deficit and help turn their CONCACAF Champions League game into a 4-1 blowout of new-look Toronto FC in front of 11,579 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.
Alvaro Saborio added a penalty kick in the second half, and newly acquired Paulo Araujo Jr. scored just seven minutes into his team debut to help RSL extend its home unbeaten streak to 28 games in all competitions.
"We didn't panic," Beckerman said. "We stayed with it."
The victory gave RSL a good boost toward its goal of advancing to the knockout round of the prestigious international tournament.
The team has six points from a 2-1-0 record halfway through the six-game group stage, and it figures it will need at least nine to advance. It still has one home game and two on the road remaining, including one next week at Arabe Unido in Panama.
"If we go down and get a result," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said, "we'll be looking good."
The team wasn't looking so good early against the Reds, who came out flying in their first game under interim coach Nick Dasovic barely a day after firing coach Preki Radosavljevic and general manager Mo Johnston.
Toronto's Maicon dos Santos opened the scoring in the eighth minute off a stolen back-pass from RSL's Nat Borchers, but Beckerman made sure his team didn't lose hold of the game. The veteran captain headed a corner kick off the head of Toronto's Julian de Guzman and into the roof of the net for a 21st-minute equalizer, earning praise from his coaches and teammates.
"That's what a captain does, pick up his team," defender Chris Wingert said. "For Kyle to go in and bang home a header, it completely changed the game around."
Olave scored his header off a free kick in the 40th minute, and RSL never looked back.
It outplayed the Reds the rest of the way, and Saborio's 69th minute penalty his fifth goal of the tournament came just three minutes after Toronto's Mista was ejected with a red card for kicking Beckerman in the leg.
In the 80th minute, Araujo Jr. put home a low cross from Robbie Findley to salvage an otherwise tough night for the struggling striker, who missed several spectacular opportunities that could have made the final score even more lopsided.
"Shaky is a very, very kind description of the way we started that first 15 minutes," coach Jason Kreis said. "But then to have the response the way we did I thought was really, really impressive from our group."
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P IN SHORT • Real Salt Lake blows out Toronto FC 4-1 in a CONCACAF Champions League game.
KEY STAT • RSL is unbeaten in its last 28 home games in all competitions.
KEY MOMENT • Kyle Beckerman heads home an equalizer off Toronto's Julian de Guzman in the 21st minute to rescue RSL from a nightmarish start.