Despite the way it may have seemed last weekend in San Jose, the roster revamping for Real Salt Lake was never going to be an easy shift. Having traded away several major parts of last year’s squad in the offseason, Real was destined to have a roller-coaster start to the season. After a surprise 2-0 win over the Earthquakes last Sunday, Salt Lake headed east and promptly fell to DC United on a 60th minute Lionard Pajoy goal.
The visitors controlled possession, crisply passing and keeping hold of the ball. What they could not do was finish their attempts on goal, getting just two of their nine shots into position to challenge United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. On the other end, DC forced Nick Rimando into several superb saves and were unlucky in some ways to walk away with just one goal for their efforts.
That goal, though, was enough to deflate Salt Lake’s hopes in the nation’s capital. Chris Pontius passed in to midfielder John Thorrington. The South African, who had been instrumental in controlling United’s offensive/defensive balance throughout the match, chipped in a shot that forced Rimando to parry away the attempt. The rebound from his fingertips fell directly to Pajoy’s forehead, and the Colombian deftly nodded in the second chance for the game winner.
United would grab the three points, but not all would be rosy for them as the full-time whistle rang through RFK. Thorrington, proving a box-to-box catalyst for DC throughout the contest, was forced to leave the pitch in the 75th minute with an injury to his knee. Should he be sidelined for a significant portion of the early season, the loss of the midfield anchor could prove critical to United’s hopes of remaining competitive in an ever-tough Eastern Conference.
REAL SALT LAKE @ DC UNITED
March 9, 2013
- 60′ — DC/Lionard Pajoy (unassisted)
- DC (4-4-2): Bill Hamid; Chris Korb, Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, James Riley; Marcos Sanchez (Kyle Porter/58′), John Thorrington (Marcelo Saragosa/75′), Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon; Lionard Pajoy (Carlos Ruiz/83′), Chris Pontius
- RSL (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Kenny Mansally (Lovel Palmer/66′), Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman; Khari Stephenson (John Stertzer/81′), Sebastian Velasquez; Luis Gil; Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley (Joao Plata/65′)