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Cat Interrupts Play, Causes Disruption During RSL, Tigres Match

(Courtesy ESPN)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A cat, yes a cat, interrupted play in the 92nd minute of Real Salt Lake’s match against Tigres UANL in the quarter finals of the Leagues Cup.

French international, André-Pierre Gignac was running onto a ball towards the west sideline during stoppage time, when a cat randomly appeared. It was remarkable. It seemed as though as soon as he controlled the football and put his right boot onto the ball, a cat randomly appeared from no where.

Fortunately the cat was okay as it scattered around the pitch, evading the ball and players with its “cat-like reflexes and agility.”

The crowd erupted, seemingly elated that a cat had disrupted play despite the fact that RSL were in desperate need of an equalizing goal.

It was a game that did not go the home crowds way as Tigres eventually beat RSL 1-0 after Eduardo Vargas deflected strike from thirty yards found the back of the net in the 57th minute. However, just when you thought the game could not get any more entertaining, a cat somehow found its way onto the pitch.

This is not the first time an animal has made its way onto the pitch during an RSL game at Rio Tinto Stadium. Last year a duck found its way onto the pitch, disrupting play for a few minutes during Real Salt Lake’s 6-2 onslaught of the LA Galaxy on September 1st, 2018.

Cleat ‘N Claws Comparison

Besides the start, where he jumped right at the ball, the cat did show some electrifying speed and agility, utilizing its catlike reflexes (are they catlike if its already a cat?) to ignite the crowd.

Once it made an impact, it scattered right off the pitch, as any scaredy-cat would. Though its time was brief, the cat’s impact on the game was monumental.

There may be some truth to that. As the heat map below indicates, put together by MLS’s director of digital content, Mark McClure, the cat was able to cover a large amount of ground in a short time. The cat really was the quickest player on the pitch the whole night.

It must have just loved the grass on its paws, as well. That pitch is like a carpet. It certainly looks like one from afar. Even calling McClure’s map a “heat” map is unfair, as the cat’s path was more likely a “trek” of luxury. Trek being the key word, in honor of Utah’s Pioneer Day, when Brigham Young and his band of travelers decided the Salt Lake Valley was the place to stay after having trekked across the plains.

A cat is not know to defend crossovers. However, much like Justen Glad, the cat used it’s speed to get out in front of the Tigres’ André-Pierre Gignac and became the last man on the line to defend and keep RSL within 1 goal.

It was the best crossover of the game.

It’s difficult to see whether the ball travelled between the legs of the cat or not. Regardless, the concentration from Gignac to pretend the cat was not there – and to display his own cat-like reflexes – may be a reason as to why he’s had such an illustrious career.

Did Gignac nutmeg the cat, Taran? I didn’t have my binoculars. You probably had a better view than me.

Here’s how the cat got onto the ground. It likely had dinner sometime around 7 p.m. By the time dinner was done – how long does it take for a cat to eat? – it was probably around 7:30 p.m. Down for a quick catnap, then realized it still had more energy to burn. After exploring some neighboring households that didn’t offer much, the cat simply followed the bright lights.

Next thing it knows, its in the spotlight with 15,000 fans and making national news. It’s a lot for a house cat to handle – and how do we know it’s a house cat? It’s clearly been to the vet, as it’s fur looks soft and cuddly. It also looked like it hadn’t missed a meal in some time.

Mike Petke did talk about the incident after the game. He questioned referee John Pitti for allowing Gignac a shot on goal, 12 seconds after the cat first appeared, before calling interference rather than a goal kick for RSL.

There were a minimum of four minutes of added time. It took a full minute to sort out the cat, yet Pitti blew the final whistle at the minimum of four minutes.

After the whistle, players were upset for the game to end so suddenly. Petke was pulling his players back and sending them to the locker room. Pitti must have thought that Petke was talking to him when he was actually talking to his player, and consequently issued the coach a red card for his actions.

Cat vs. Quack

Just nine months ago, an animal made headlines in another high-profile match, when RSL took on the LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium. Around the 29th minute, a wandering duck took the pitch and caused a stir by walking around and forcing the grounds crew (and some of the players) to chase him down.

The duck’s invasion of the game caused a fire on social media, leading to a name for the duck and a Twitter profile – Albert Rusquack the RSL Duck – named for RSL midfielder Albert Rusnák.

The cat’s appearance in Wednesday’s game looks to have ruffled some feathers of Albert Rusquack, who had a simple response to the feline’s display.

“Stupid cat,” the profile tweeted.

Could there possibly be some jealousy?

With Utah’s array of both domestic and wild animals, one wonders what else might find its way to Rio Tinto.

Who would win, the RSL Cat or last year’s RSL Duck?

Major League Soccer got into the fun, as well. They created FIFA cards for both the RSL Cat and RSL Duck, giving the cat the advantage in pace, shooting, passing, defense and physicality. The duck – Alfred – took the advantage in just dribbling abilities.

The post generated several reactions on social media. Many noted the intangibles a duck brings to the pitch. Although Alfred waddled, the duck does have the power of flight, and likely better field vision. Right?

A Minnesota United FC fan reminded the duck was not an idea original to Salt Lake. They had a similar incident in 2015.

Ultimately, all the talent in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t get the player to sign with the team. The duck may be a better option, due to difficult contract negotiations known to exist with cat-kind.

Posted by Sevier County Animal Shelter – Utah on Thursday, December 29, 2016

RSL Schedule
08/03/2019
New York City FC
1
Real Salt Lake
3
08/10/2019
Real Salt Lake
2
Sporting Kansas City
1
08/14/2019
Seattle
0
Real Salt Lake
3
08/17/2019
Los Angeles FC
2
Real Salt Lake
0
08/24/2019 @ 8:00 pm
Colorado
Real Salt Lake
08/31/2019 @ 8:30 pm
Real Salt Lake
Portland
09/11/2019 @ 7:30 pm
San Jose
Real Salt Lake
09/15/2019 @ 3:30 pm
Real Salt Lake
Minnesota
09/21/2019 @ 5:30 pm
Real Salt Lake
New England
09/25/2019 @ 7:30 pm
Los Angeles
Real Salt Lake
Western Conf. Standings
W-L-T Pts.
Los Angeles FC
18-3-4 58
Minnesota
12-8-6 42
Los Angeles
13-11-2 41
Real Salt Lake
12-10-4 40
Seattle
11-8-7 40
San Jose
11-9-5 38
Portland
11-9-4 37
FC Dallas
10-10-7 37
Houston
9-13-4 31
Sporting Kansas City
8-11-7 31
Colorado
7-13-6 27
Vancouver
6-12-9 27