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Real Salt Lake 2014: Club drops sure three points late, draws 2-2 to Vancouver

Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez.
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.

For the first eight minutes, Real Salt Lake looked like it was going to dominate its opponent. In the last eight minutes, however, RSL went back to its old, mysterious ways, allowing two late goals to draw 2-2 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, April 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Being home apparently meant little for Real Salt Lake, who has now dropped valuable points in three games on the road and at home. After coming out so dominant with a 2nd minute goal from Joao Plata -- and another cracker that Alvaro Saborio bent and ripped into side netting in the 9th, RSL was well on its way to victory.

But an inability to secure that back-breaking third goal led to the home team settling for another single point. The chances to score more were certainly there, as RSL held a slight advantage in possession throughout the game.

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman got the club’s first two good chances in minutes 16 and 22, the latter a Becker bomb -- as @DrinkWithDunny, or RSL color commentator Brian Dunseth might say -- that with a wicked spin just missed swirling inside the far post.

Lest you thought Saborio’s night was through, he had his opportunity to put this baby to bed in the 35th, knocking down a header from a flighty Joao Plata cross that a Whitecaps defender headed away in reply.

Even a breakaway opportunity for Plata went for naught as the first half mercifully came to a close for Vancouver. After the break the Whitecaps subbed their DP, forward Kenny Miller and two veterans for three youngsters and more flair up top. It didn't sit well with Miller, who in the last week of his contract threw a hissy fit as he exited the pitch.

Meanwhile, back at the house that Dave built, RSL wasn’t done, either. Saborio had his third golden look in the 80th minute, flicking a header that Ousted poked over the cross bar. In the 86th minute, just as complete darkness fell upon the field, Vancouver awakened a tipsy RSL faithful sobering up from the breakneck pace with which the Drink With Dunny game began on this rainy night in Sandy, Utah.

RSL fans were probably slightly irritated by this upstart Whitecaps team coming into their house and dictating the pace in the second 45. And soon enough, those dreams of RSL net minder Nick Rimando getting his record-tying shutout were going to evaporate as well.

A shot by Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks -- the only forward who played from start to finish for the visitors -- bounced off Rimando, which sub Nicolas Mezquida tapped in to trim RSL’s lead to 2-1. Offsides or not, the goal stood.

The second piece of trouble came in stoppage time, as Saborio -- who usually doesn’t play all 90, anyway -- took a heavy second touch after dribbling into open field near the center circle. Moments later, another sub -- Sebastian Fernandez, a Uruguayan on loan from Mexican side Chiapas -- gobbled up the turnover, took a gentle touch and unfurled a worm burner that skidded across the lush, soaked Rio Tinto turf.

Not even Rimando’s cat-like reflexes could keep this laser beam from going into the net. A likely candidate for MLS Goal Of The Week earned the Whitecaps the tie in the dying moments.

It’s the fifth draw in five games for RSL, still unbeaten at 3-0-5 -- and still far too eager in giving away points, particularly late in matches. The bug that bit Jason Kreis before him had now befallen new head coach Jeff Cassar -- and left fans bewildered as they stumbled for the exits.

“I think it was the choices that we made on the ball. We had a two-goal lead, and we really needed to take care of the ball. I thought we gave it away a little too cheaply. We also got a little bit out of shape – giving up the ball away in poor areas, guys in different spots and not spots to defend properly. We’ll learn from it,” Cassar said in his post-game press conference.

RSL heads back on the road to take on the Chicago Fire later this week.

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