Real Salt Lake Stuns Vancouver In MLS Opening Week

Feb 25, 2023, 10:34 PM | Updated: Feb 27, 2023, 12:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake secured its first victory of the 2023 MLS season following two second-half goals to come from behind on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Captain Damir Kreilach returned to the starting XI after missing most of last season with a back injury, while Anderson Julio started at the point of the attack due to Rubio Rubin’s suspension.

The fixture proved troubling for Real Salt Lake early as they looked nervous and not up for the challenge of an MLS road game. Multiple errant passes put the away side under pressure. It was a different tale for the Vancouver Whitecaps, however, who looked comfortable at home and in front of their home fans.

It was the Whitecaps who capitalized on the early momentum when Javain Brown beat Justen Glad to the ball and put the ball into the back of the net from a corner kick. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath dove to his left and got a glove to the shot but was not able to keep the ball from trickling over the goal line.

Despite the nervous start, Real Salt Lake caught up to the tempo and speed of the game and looked to be the more aggressive team prior to the halftime interval.

“I think we had a pretty nervous start to the game on both sides of the ball this evening,” Mastroeni opened his post-game press conference stating.

A Tale Of Two Halves

The second half began in a different fashion to how the first began as Real Salt Lake looked determined and adamant to play in a more aggressive manner. Whitecaps goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka was under stress as Real Salt Lake peppered the away net.

The persistence paid off in the 70th minute when Maikel Chang’s cross found the lunging foot of Justen Glad who found space at the back post and was able to finally beat Takaoka to level the score.

Shortly thereafter, Kreilach received a pass from Savarino whose left-footed strike beat the outstretched arms of Takaoka and found the far corner of the net.

Remarkably, Real Salt Lake led with just 20 minutes remaining despite trailing for the vast majority of the game.

Mastroeni then introduced 20-year-old Colombian Andrés Gómez for the first time who replaced Maikel Chang. Danny Musovski then replaced a cramping Anderson Julio in the 79th while Justin Meram took over for Savarino on the left hand side of the attack.

Interestingly, Vancouver also introduced former RSL striker Sergio Córdova who was signed as a Designated Player by Vancouver earlier in the week.

The introduction of Córdova changed the dynamic of the game. Vancouver looked to play through their new number nine and utilize his size and speed to get in behind the Real Salt Lake defense.

Desperate defending by Real Salt Lake prevented any miracle for Vancouver and the away side was able to secure its first three points of 2023 in its first match.

It was the first victory for Real Salt Lake at BC Place since 2021.

Next week Real Salt Lake will remain on the road as they prepare to play the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, March 4th, with kickoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

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Real Salt Lake Stuns Vancouver In MLS Opening Week