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Jun 26, 2013

RSL reaches Cup semis for first time

SANDY, Utah -- Defenders Tony Beltran and Chris Winger took on scoring duties to help Real Salt Lake reach the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time with a 3-0 victory over the Carolina Railhawks on Wednesday night.

Alvaro Saborio added a third goal late for RSL, which has won six straight games across all competitions and is unbeaten in 10 of 11 matches since the start of May.

Salt Lake had reached the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on two previous occasions but took 2-0 losses to the Colorado Rapids in 2006 and FC Dallas in 2011. RSL improved to 7-8-1 in Open Cup play and is now 5-2 against lower-division teams. It will play Portland in the semifinals.

The result also gave RSL coach Jason Kreis his 100th career victory since retiring as a player in 2007 to take over coaching duties.

Carolina created zero shots before halftime. The RailHawks turned their complete attention to shutting down Salt Lake's powerful offense. They routinely dropped most of their players behind the ball in the first half to keep RSL from getting into an offensive rhythm.

The conservative strategy worked in frustrating Salt Lake's attack. Kyle Beckerman came the closest to breaking through in those early minutes. Beckerman gathered up a loose ball outside the box in the 11th minute and curled a shot toward the far post, but goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald stopped it.

That all changed in the 35th minute when Beltran put Salt Lake ahead. Three defenders converged on Saborio when Javier Morales fed him the ball in the center of the box. Saborio flicked it out to Beltran on the right and Beltran sent a low blast he threaded inside the left post.

Wingert followed with just the second goal in his MLS career in the 50th minute. He fired off a left-footer that deflected off Fitzgerald on the line and went in.

Saborio came up just short of adding a third goal in the 64th minute. Morales angled a corner kick into him inside the 6-yard box. Saborio headed the ball forward, but it bounced off the post.

He would not be denied for long. Saborio finally scored in the 85th minute when Olmes Garcia tracked down a ball in the corner and crossed it to him in front of the net. Saborio headed it home.

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