SANDY, Utah (AP) – Andy Williams scored on a free kick early in the 47th minute and Fabian Espindola added a goal in the final minute of stoppage time to lift Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas on Saturday night.
Salt Lake (8-3-6) extended its unbeaten streak to 2-0-4. Dallas (10-5-4) had won three straight. The two teams will meet again on Tuesday night in Dallas in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Williams scored just his second goal of the season when he lobbed a shot over a defensive wall on a free kick restart. The ball slipped out of the left glove of Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and trickled across the end line to give Salt Lake a 1-0 lead.
''It's always important to get that first goal - especially at home,'' Williams said. ''They were sitting back all game and looking for a counterattack. I thought we did a good job the first half in eliminating their chances going forward.''
The goal brought Dallas to life on offense and it started to press the attack as the second half wore on. Salt Lake made some fine defensive plays to hold onto the lead. Chris Wingert came up with a spectacular save in the 85th minute as he blocked a shot off the line from Jackson just as it looked like the Dallas midfielder could tap one in with goalkeeper Nick Rimando out of position.
Salt Lake's Tony Beltran pointed to the fact that his team had possession of the ball the majority of the time as a big reason for its ability to step up on defense.
''They were defending for a large portion of the game, so I'm not sure how they're feeling,'' Beltran said. ''I know personally if I'm defending for long periods of time, it's very tiring. It's more tiring than possessing the ball.''
Espindola sealed the win when he sent a shot past Hartman in the final minute of stoppage time and buried it in the right corner of the net.
The result was exactly what Salt Lake needed to keep pace with teams like Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy in the chase for the Supporters' Shield awarded to the MLS team with the best regular season record.
''We stated before the game that this was a huge match for us,'' Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. ''Probably the biggest we have had this season against what I think is arguably the team that's in the best form right now. A positive result. It doesn't matter to me the score. To get all three points against them was big for us.''
Neither offense could break through in the first half. Salt Lake attacked frequently, but only created intermittent scoring chances.
The best opportunity to get on the scoreboard came in the 18th minute when Alvaro Saborio tracked down a bouncing pass from Kyle Beckerman. Saborio caught a piece of the ball with his head on the bounce at the far post. His touch was good, but the ball just barely hooked wide of the post.
FC Dallas had a chance in the 40th minute when Jackson blasted a shot from 40 yards away that Rimando was forced to parry over the crossbar.