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Even-keeled Jordan Allen excited to keep working for Real Salt Lake

SANDY — Jordan Allen was the hero Sunday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, but you’d never know it based on his demeanor afterward.

Despite scoring his first career goal — a dramatic game-winner in the 89th minute against Toronto — he casually went about his business in the locker room afterward like he’d scored 100 goals in his career. Even after being swarmed by reporters, he rarely cracked a smile.

Asked how he’d celebrate his first professional goal, Allen said that’s not really his style.

“This goal comes after two weeks really of staying after it with (assistant coach) Ted Eck every day doing finishing. So it’s not something that just happens, and I’m going to make sure I realize that going forward that this doesn’t just happen, you have to keep working for it,” said Allen.

RSL coach Jeff Cassar wasn’t surprised one bit by Allen’s humble reaction to his heroics.

“Jordan’s a pretty even-keel guy, he’s never too high or too low, which I think leads for him to have a really bright future ’cause he’s kind of in control of his emotions,” said Cassar.

Those emotions were seriously tested a year ago.

Two games into his rookie season, which included two appearances as an 18-year-old rookie, he sprained his ankle in the San Jose game. It eventually aggravated a knee injury, and he underwent season-ending knee surgery in May.

There were definitely good days and bad days for Allen as he tried to look ahead to a healthy 2015 season.

“Last year was really hard, and there were a lot of times I was watching from the stands wondering if I was ever going to get that moment again,” said Allen.

Following the departure of four veterans last offseason, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said it’s imperative that youngsters like Allen step up in 2015 and become household names in Utah. He’s not surprised Allen was the first to do so after witnessing the 19-year-old’s work ethic day after day the past year.

“He’s been really chomping at the bit. He’s had a great preseason. He’s just really hungry to get on the field and I think what he did tonight is really going to help his cause get more playing time,” said Beckerman.

“I think last year when he got injured it really took its toll, but he kept a good head, he worked hard and made sure to do all the right things to get back, and it’s a great reward for all he’s gone through in the past year.”

Javier Morales, who set up Allen’s goal with the perfect cross, was thrilled as well.

“He’s a good kid. Coming (back) from injury he was a little bit sad, now everything changes. Happy for him,” said Morales.

For Allen, he was elated as anyone about scoring the game-winner in front of the largest crowd in Rio Tinto Stadium history, but instead of patting himself on the back too much he’s already looking ahead to his next goal.

“For me to have that moment so early in the season, hopefully I can build on that and there will be a lot more moments like this throughout the rest of the year,” he said.

James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.