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Luis Silva fires RSL to 3 points against D.C. United

WASHINGTON — Real Salt Lake’s game against D.C. United took over almost 26 hours to complete, but when it all was said and done, the Claret and Cobalt did something that they had never accomplished in 13 years in of playing in Major League Soccer.

Luis Silva struck for his second goal of the season in the 64th minute, and RSL held firm defensively to beat United for the first time at RFK Stadium, 1-0.

In nine previous trips to RFK, which D.C. United will be leaving at the end of the 2017 season, RSL had only managed a meager three points, conceding 23 goals in those contests. On Sunday night, after surviving a shot hitting the post in the first half, RSL came out with purpose in the second half, extending their unbeaten streak to six games with a win over United.

But the 24-hour gap after Saturday night’s storm delayed the game in the 28th minute made for an interesting adventure RSL.

“It was difficult,” RSL head coach Mike Petke told reporters after the game, about how he and his coaching staff managed the playing situation. “But I think that the referees, the league, and D.C. United, working with us, did a fantastic job of managing it.”

After nearly an hour-and-a-half delay on Saturday night, the decision was made to bump the game back until Sunday night. That derailed travel plans for Real Salt Lake to get back home, and team officials had to scramble to take care of lodging and food for the players.

Plus, there was one thing lingering on the mind of Petke and the players after the game last night, and all day leading up to the restart. The game was delayed right as United were about to take a corner. By the rules, that’s where the game would resume. So right away on Sunday night, RSL were defending a corner.

“We talked about that after the game [last night], all morning, afternoon, pregame, right before we went out, we talked about it.,” added Petke about the restart. “We got these guys in the best positions we could. Our guys did well with it.”

Later in the first half, Rimando was rooted to the spot a as header from center back Kofi Opare bounced off of the woodwork. Rimando was also alert in grabbing a deflection from United striker Patrick Mullins. From that point on, the Claret and Cobalt came out with a purpose in the second half, knowing they had taken United’s best shot and survived.

“We knew for at least the first 15 minutes, they were going to be buzzing, all over us, high pressuring,” said Petke. “We knew at the beginning of the game, we had to manage, and sit back a little more. We knew in the second half it would open up, and it happened that way.”

Silva finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, taking advantage of a misplay from D.C. United’s Marcelo Sarvas. United couldn’t completely clear away a free kick into the box, and RSL attempted another cross. Marcelo intercepted that cross, but, in trying to pass the ball out of the box, sent the ball directly to Silva.

Silva took one touch to bring the ball down, and, with his second, powered a shot past keeper Bill Hamid, for his second goal on the season.

“A goal is goal. But, most important, it’s the three points,” Silva said after the game. “We knew we were going to create opportunities. We came out sharper today. And the energy was there. I knew I was going to get one more chance, and I put it away.”

After Silva’s goal, there were still 26 minutes left for RSL to keep their lead, to run their unbeaten streak to six games. But, while United got desperate in pumping the ball forward, looking for an opportunity, Salt Lake held firm, denying United any good looks at goal.

“As a team, we fought towards the end. Every single ball, we challenged, which shows a lot of character,” Silva told reporters. “We have to put this one away, and look forward to the next game.”

The six-game unbeaten streak that the team is currently on has been a bit odd, as RSL have won the past three games on the road, while tying three consecutive games at home. To claw back into the a playoff position, at some point, the team will have to replicate their away form at home. But, with a trip to play the Montreal Impact next, the focus now is continuing their run on the road, while sitting three points out of a playoff spot after Sunday’s win.

“We’re going to take this with some confidence going into Montreal,” said Rimando. “And, hopefully, that can lead into our home games.”