Real Salt Lake Buries Vancouver Whitecaps At The Death Asserting Rio Tinto Stadium Dominance
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake returned to the pitch following the FIFA International break and beat Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 in front of a rowdy Rio Tinto Stadium crowd.
Newly arrived striker Bobby Wood did not make the 18-player squad as he is still working on regaining full fitness after a two-month break from competitive games.
Everton Luiz returned to the bench for the first time since he suffered a knee injury early in the season.
Manager Freddy Juarez opted for a nearly unchanged lineup from the previous fixture against Minnesota United. The only change being David Ochoa, who returned to his starting goalkeeper duties after a stint with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The break was clearly needed for RSL, despite some very evident rust throughout the course of the fixture, RSL looked like the more dangerous team down the stretch and was able to capitalize with a pair of late goals as the legs of Vancouver wore thin.
“Anytime it’s good to get three points especially at home,” Kreilach said. “Now it is straight onto the Seattle game then onto Houston. It is all about the win now, but soon we must move forward.”
First Half Lead
The first 45 minutes was largely spent in favor of RSL, who held the majority of first-half chances created.
Fortunately, it was Damir Kreilach who gave the hosts the first-half lead with just two minutes remaining in the first half after he slotted the ball into the back of the net from just outside the area with the inside of his right boot.
His goal was assisted by RSL captain Albert Rusnak, it was Rusnak’s first assist of the season.
RSL entered the half-time interval up 1-0 and seemingly in control of the contest.
Second Half Heroics
The second half has been where RSL has struggled throughout the first six games of the 2021 MLS season. The club has conceded a number of late goals to squander leads, frustrating and infuriating the beloved local fan base.
Sadly, the trend continued when Vancouver equalized in the 54th minute via a Brian White half volley.
The equalizer sparked the visitors who went on a barrage of attacks and came as close as hitting the post twice to gaining the scoreboard advantage.
RSL struggled down the stretch, despite manager Freddy Juarez opting to bring on Justin Meram and Erik Holt for Anderson Julio and Marcelo Silva respectively.
The RSL bench still remains thin and is in desperate need of some additions which will inevitably occur over the coming weeks with the recent additions to the squad.
As the clock ticked into stoppage time, RSL was rewarded a throw-in deep in Vancouver territory. Aaron Herrera launched a ball into the area in which Holt flicked towards the back post. His header snuck into the bottom left corner of the net to award the hosts the late game-winning goal. It was Holt’s first MLS goal of his career.
“I am just super happy to help the team win. To come on and make a difference makes me super happy, really stoked for the team and for this win,” Holt said at the conclusion of the game.
Rio Tinto Stadium erupted into a frenzy as the most unlikely of candidates celebrated his game-winning magic.
But RSL was not done yet. Just minutes later, after controlling the possession in the buildup, Meram found space on the right flank. He put in a wicked delivery that had curve and pace that found the head of Kreilach at the back post who nutmegged Vancouver’s goalkeeper and gave the hosts a comfortable two-goal lead with minutes remaining.
The Final Numbers
RSL dominated possession to the tune of 60%. They were out-shot by Vancouver 13 to 10 but had 4 more shots on target than the visitors. RSL was also the more aggressive team, gaining 4 yellow cards to Vancouver 1 throughout the contest. RSL had 4 corners to Vancouver’s 2.
The better team won on the night.
It is a short turnaround for RSL who travel to Century Link Field for a matchup with the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, June 23.
Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. and can be streamed for free via the KSL 5 TV app, the KSL Sports app, or on KSL Sports dot com.
Seattle is currently in the first position in the Western Conference and most recently drew with Austin in a goalless affair on May 30. The Sounders go on the road tomorrow and play the LA Galaxy, kickoff will be at 7 p.m.