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Sandy • For all the headlines and conversations Toronto FC sparked with its monumental redesign this offseason, a road test against a proven club undoubtedly motivated by the chatter of shiny new signings turned out to be a shellacking.
It was only a matter of time before a reality check was handed down to the club that created all the ruckus, doling out millions upon millions of dollars for high-profile players from around the globe.
Real Salt Lake presented that check on a balmy Utah night.
Powered by its most complete performance of the young season, RSL dominated visiting Toronto FC Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium, toppling Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, Gilberto and Co. 3-0 in front of 18,881 fans. It was a thumping end to TFC's hot start after the club began 2014 with back-to-back victories.
"I thought it was a mature performance from the guys," said RSL coach Jeff Cassar.
That may have been putting it mildly.
Forward Alvaro Saborio scored two goals, while midfielder Luis Gil scored another in the RSL rout. It was Saborio earning a penalty kick in the 11th minute that spearheaded the club's stellar outing. The Costa Rican international was dragged to the ground by TFC defender Doneil Henry in the corner of the penalty area, leaving official Baldomero Toledo with the decision to point to the spot. Saborio went right on TFC keeper Julio Cesar and the Brazilian went the other way to give RSL an early 1-0 lead. Later in the first half, Luis Gil made sure U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, in attendance Saturday night, would have something to smile about. The RSL midfielder slotted home RSL's second goal against TFC when a loose ball found its way to his left foot inside the box in the 28th minute.
"Probably wasn't the prettiest goal," Gil joked afterward, "but you've got to shoot to score. I'll take it."
Saborio ensured his night would only get better when he chipped his one-on-one opportunity with Julio Cesar, created by an overhead chip by Javier Morales, giving RSL a commanding 3-0 lead in the 55th minute.
"Sabo's a competitor," Cassar said. "He always wants to go out and prove people wrong and show people what his talents are and tonight we saw it."
While RSL put on a display against the revamped Reds, its defense on Defoe and Gilberto was just another feather to put in the cap after Defoe entered Saturday night's match with three goals in TFC's first two matches. Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler handled the pressure of Defoe's speed throughout before he was subbed off in the 61st minute.
Once the result wouldn't be challenged, RSL fans showered its players with cheers after the dominant outing and jeered TFC. They chanted "overrated" in the waning minutes of the match in the direction of the visitors, cementing the evening at Rio Tinto.
"I think there was a lot of hype, a lot of things said in the press, but it's another home game for us and another opportunity to show what a good team we are," Borchers said. "I thought we did that tonight. We made a statement."
R Forward Alvaro Saborio scores two goals, while Luis Gil scores another in RSL's rout of visiting Toronto FC.
• The RSL defense corrals new signings Jermain Defoe and Gilberto in the shutout.
RSL 3, Toronto FC 0
Toronto FC 0 0 0
Real Salt Lake 2 1 3
First half » 1, Real Salt Lake, Saborio 2 (penalty kick), 11th minute. 2, Real Salt Lake, Gil 1, 28th.
Second half3, Real Salt Lake, Saborio 3 (Morales, Beckerman), 55th.
GoaliesToronto FC, Julio Cesar; Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando.
Yellow CardsDefoe, Toronto FC, 29th; Henry, Toronto FC, 31st; Caldwell, Toronto FC, 35th; Schuler, Real Salt Lake, 38th.
RefereeBaldomero Toledo. Assistant RefereesMike Rottersman. Fabio Tovar. 4th OfficialDrew Fischer.
Toronto FC Julio Cesar, Justin Morrow, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Bradley Orr (Issey Nakajima-Farran, 60th), Mark Bloom, Michael Bradley, Jeremy Hall (Kyle Bekker, 78th), Alvaro Rey, Gilberto, Jermain Defoe (Dwayne De Rosario, 61st).
Real Salt LakeNick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Rich Balchan, 58th), Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Luke Mulholland, 88th), Luis Gil, Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval, 84th), Alvaro Saborio.