Real Salt Lake Frustrated By Another Missed Opportunity On Home Pitch
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake returned to Rio Tinto Stadium for a home encounter with the LA Galaxy midweek in what turned out to be yet another grueling opportunity to pick up three points at home.
“Trust me, the team is just as frustrated as the fans are,” RSL Captain Albert Rusnak said. “It seems like we are a better team when we are drawing with a team as opposed to winning, and it should be the other way round. I don’t know, I just don’t know,” he added.
Manager Freddy Juarez opted to utilize Maikel Chang on the wing in a surprise move to allow for fresh legs to be utilized in the attacking third. His decision would ultimately pay dividends midway through the first half.
Jonathan Menéndez made his first appearance in an RSL kit he started on the bench for the first time since arriving in the Beehive state. However, he did not see the pitch and will have to wait a little longer before his RSL debut is cemented.
The Galaxy entered the fixture in a similar fashion to RSL, with a loss. However, unlike RSL who lost to arguably the league’s most talented team in LAFC, the Galaxy surrendered defeat against the dismal Vancouver Whitecaps on the road.
As has been the case for the past month, Galaxy star striker Chicharito was unavailable for selection due to injury. Since Chicharito’s absence, the Galaxy has only won once through three games.
Strong Start From The Hosts
RSL began the fixture in dazzling form, peppering the Galaxy goal on countless occasions within the opening minutes. The majority of the play was occurring on the right-hand side through Aaron Herrera and Chang and in the 10th minute, Herrera played a simple ball into the area that captain Albert Rusnák was able to get his left foot onto it and score the games opening goal.
It was Herrera’s sixth assist of the season, who leads defenders in Major League Soccer in the assist tally.
The lead then doubled after more pressure from RSL paid off. Maikel Chang cut in onto his preferred left foot from the right-wing and tucked the ball into the bottom right-hand corner in the 26th minute.
But unfortunately, that is where the good work stopped for RSL.
At the half an hour mark, the Galaxy settled into the game and took control of the speed and tempo of the contest.
They were rewarded with their first goal in the 33rd minute when Víctor Vázquez capitalized on an opportunity and beat Ochoa by putting his shot into the top right corner of the net. It was his first goal of the 2021 MLS season.
The halftime score was 2-1 in favor of RSL, but the vibe around the stadium was clear; RSL needed to adjust at halftime if they were intending on securing three points at home.
Second Half Let Down…Again
The Galaxy flew out of the locker room to begin the second half and was fortunate not to equalize after striker Kévin Cabral missed a tap-in.
RSL was on the back foot, their backline was dropping deeper and deeper and Ochoa was under immense pressure to keep his team in the contest.
The inevitable occurred in the 77th minute when in-form attacking Galaxy midfielder found a pocket of space from a brilliant delivery and headed home the equalizer.
The home crowd was stunned as a breath of déjà vu suffocated the midweek crowd. Then, Anderson Julio came as close as humanly possible to scoring when his 94th-minute header from outside the area ricocheted off the top of the woodwork and further ruffled the feathers of both RSL and the home crowd.
The fixture concluded 2-2, despite desperate attempts from RSL to equalize. Juarez opted to bring Justin Meram into the game for Everton Luiz, leaving Nick Besler as the only midfielder on the pitch.
His attempts however were not heroic and RSL was yet again distraught by another game in which they left points on their home pitch.
“We cannot keep giving up late goals, it sucks, it is inexcusable,” Rubio Rubin bluntly said during his post-game media availability.
RSL will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, July 24th with kickoff slated for 8 p.m.
The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.