Real Salt Lake Stunned By USL League One Club Northern Colorado Hailstorm
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake lost to USL League 1 team Northern Colorado Hailstorm in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup eliminating RSL from the competition in the most embarrassing of ways.
Real Salt Lake last won a U.S Open Cup game in 2016 when they beat Wilmington Hammerheads FC in penalties.
Manager Pablo Mastroeni opted to use this game as a chance to give players, young and old, that have not seen many minutes as of late an opportunity to showcase their skillsets over a longer period of time.
Most notably, goalkeeper David Ochoa and defender Justen Glad returned to the starting lineup following long stints on the injury list. They were accompanied by the likes of Nick Besler, Everton Luiz, and Rubio Rubin as experienced players in need of a run. Furthermore, Pierre Reedy, Bobby Pierre, Bode Davis, Jasper Löffelsend, and Chris Garcia all started.
Dismal First Half
The opening 45 minutes was a bore. Outside of one chance 20 seconds into the contest for the Hailstorm that came following an errant Pierre pass the half was filled with ball possession in the midfield and poor through passes in the attacking half.
Real Salt Lake had eight shots at the half with only two on target while winning the possession tally 53 percent to 47.
Despite the concerning and far from captivating performance in the first half, Mastroeni opted to not make any changes at the main interval despite the RSL bench being filled with prolific players.
That all changed in the 62nd minute when Mastroeni opted to bring Sergio Córdova, Scott Caldwell, and Jaziel Orozco off the bench replacing Löffelsend, Luiz, and Glad who were all clearly under a minute restriction.
Rio Tinto Stadium Silenced
Rio Tinto Stadium was then silenced in the 70th minute when defender Robert Cornwall hit a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that beat Ochoa to his bottom right corner. The strike took a slight deflection on its way to the back of the net. Regardless, Northern Colorado Hailstorm of the USL League 1 led Real Salt Lake with the minutes dwindling.
It was the Hailstorm’s first shot on goal for the match.
Mastroeni was then forced to go to his bench and opted to bring on Maikel Chang and Pablo Ruiz for Pierre Reedy and Bobby Pierre.
The home crowd of 15,000 was rattled but soon rallied behind their team and decided to start making some noise.
The game changed with the input of Chang and Ruiz and finally, Real Salt Lake began threatening the Northern Colorado goal. Rubin swiped at a loose ball bouncing around the penalty spot but sprayed his attempt wide.
As the minutes continued to tick, the Northern Colorado defensive backline dropped deeper and deeper, making life more problematic for Real Salt Lake in their attempt to create space.
Ruiz then took a pop from a distance that grazed the crossbar roughing the top of the net as it sizzled over.
Northern Colorado continued to waste time as players dropped with cramps and injury throughout the final minutes of the game. Understandably, the tempers began to flair as the seconds ticked by.
Their tactics worked as Real Salt Lake was unable to equalize and was consequently eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup.
It is arguably their worst loss in the competition to date.
Real Salt Lake will travel to Providence Park for a road fixture against the Portland Timbers. Kickoff is slated for Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m.
The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.
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