Real Salt Lake opened the scoring in a rather unique way on Saturday. After a Philadelphia Union player was whistled for a foul inside his own penalty box on RSL forward Olmes Garcia, teammate Alvaro Saborio stepped up to take the penalty kick in just the fifth minute of play.
The normally reliable Saborio went to his left with his blast -- but Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac McMath was up to the task. He deflected Saborio’s shot -- which rebounded to RSL rookie midfielder Luke Mulholland. By rule, Mulholland was able to take another shot, which he slotted inside the Union far post for a 1-0 lead.
It was the second goal of the season for the former North American Soccer League Player of the Year who seems to have found a home at Real Salt Lake and in Major League Soccer.
“Yeah, we all have confidence in Sabo [Alvaro Saborio] scoring those. Penalties do not always get scored so it is important to follow it through and just be in the right place at the right time,” Mulholland said at the post-game press conference. All I did was just try to re-direct it back on goal, fortunately enough to find the corner.”
The Philadelphia Union equalized in the 55th minute, as they orchestrated a counterattack that caught RSL napping. A cross from Union midfielder Vincent Noguiera from the right wing was collected on the chest of forward Andrew Wenger who took the ball one time with the side foot and finished to level the score at 1-1.
Real Salt Lake got back the lead in the 85th minute in a seesaw battle that saw both teams combine for 26 shots on goal -- nine on frame. RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman received a brilliant diagonal pass from teammate, midfielder Sebastian Velasquez -- back in an RSL kit for the first time this season -- which Beckerman finished almost as clinically at the far post as Mulholland’s fifth minute delight.
But just when you thought Real Salt Lake had this game won -- even if Philadelphia out-possessed RSL on the afternoon -- on came the Philadelphia Union at the death. Maidana was again the momentum killer to RSL, sending an in swinger off of a corner kick towards the corner of the six-yard box.
Eight yards from goal and clearly marked stood U.S. international and Union midfielder Maurice Edu, who rose above his defender and with his forehead flicked the ball goal ward and into the net to tie the game at 2-2.
“I think at the end of the day it was a fair result. I think they had several half chances and we had a few very good chances,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said at the post-game press conference. “It was a hard fought game, it looked like there was two tough teams out there competing extremely hard and we just have to do a better job of focusing and closing out games.”
Real Salt Lake had again lost the game at the death, marking the second time this season -- San Jose was the first -- that the claret and cobalt let three points slip away. RSL now heads back home for a rivalry tilt later this week against the Portland Timbers.