Alvaro Saborio scored twice and Real Salt Lake came out winners in their Major League Soccer playoff opener Saturday, routing visiting Seattle, 3-0, in the first leg of the most widely anticipated first-round series.
Saborio finished a Chris Wingert feed in the 41st minute, on a play in which he appeared offside, then scored a glorious second goal in the 53rd, backheeling into the net Javier Morales' ball to the near post despite blanket coverage by Sounders defender Jeff Parke.
Ned Grabavoy added the third in the 88th.
Real Salt Lake finished third in MLS's overall standings, and Seattle was second. The winner of the the home-and-home, total-goals series will meet the Galaxy or New York in the Nov. 6 Western Conference final.
Both of Real Salt Lake's central defenders -- Jamison Olave (quad strain) and Nat Borchers (knee strain) -- departed with injuries, and their statuses for Wednesday's second leg in Seattle are uncertain.
The Sounders should be facing more of a handicap than just a three-goal deficit. Osvaldo Alonso should have been red-carded for shoving Saborio in the face away from the ball in the 54th minute, but referee Mark Geiger pulled out the yellow card. The league could assess a suspension for the second leg.
Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Real Salt Lake 3, Seattle Sounders 0
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio (Chris Wingert, Javier Morales) 41
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio (Javier Morales) 53
RSL -- Ned Grabavoy 88
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler, 32), Nat Borchers (Luis Gil, 84), Chris Wingert; Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Ned Grabavoy, 79), Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola.
Seattle Sounders: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Lamar Neagle (Erik Friberg, 60), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque, 77); Sammy Ochoa (Mike Fucito, 63), Fredy Montero.
Yellow cards: Espindola 30, Alonso 54, Montero 91+, Friberg 93+.
Referee: Mark Geiger. Att.: 17,067.
FIRST ROUND, FIRST LEG
Real Salt Lake 3 (Saborio 41, 53, Grabavoy 88), Seattle 0
Galaxy at New York, noon (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
Houston at Philadelphia, 2 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
Sporting Kansas City at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
FIRST ROUND, SECOND LEG
Colorado at Sporting Kansas City, 5 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
Real Salt Lake at Seattle, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
Philadelphia at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
New York vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center (Carson), 8 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, Nov. 6
Western or Eastern final, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
Western or Eastern final, time TBA (ESPN or ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
MLS CUP 2011
Sunday, Nov. 20
At Home Depot Center (Carson), 7 p.m. (ESPN and Galavision)
Wednesday, Oct. 26
FC Dallas 0, New York 1 (Lindpere 61)
Thursday, Oct. 27
Colorado 1 (Cummings 45), Columbus 0