It took another 120 minutes and perhaps a little luck, but Real Salt Lake beat third division Charleston Battery 5-2 to reach the US Open Cup quarterfinals for their first time.
The match started well for RSL but very quickly degraded into one of the worst halves of soccer Real Salt Lake has played in recent memory. After going down two goals in the first half — both scored only two minutes apart — the theme became a matter of keeping the Battery from scoring more — though the chances hardly stopped at that point.
The second half saw a comeback mounted: In the 66th minute, Devon Sandoval — a rookie, mind — got on the end of a cross from Tony Beltran and finished past Charleston keeper Odisnel Cooper.
Joao Plata, who either slipped or was taken down in the 77th minute, scored the ensuing penalty, sending it into the roof of the net from the spot. RSL pushed for a third goal in regulation, but the Battery quickly took a time-wasting approach to see out the half. The results weren't kind.
Once extra time kicked off, Real Salt Lake was on the front foot. Devon Sandoval struck again in the 97th minute with a towering header that left the goalkeeper with no chance — scoring, in the process, his third US Open Cup goal, tying the rookie for the club Open Cup record.
Khari Stephenson sealed the win in the 105th minute with a strike from distance, and — who else? — Devon Sandoval and Javier Morales put a bow on the game for RSL when the big man was taken down in the box and Morales converted the penalty.
It was, all told, a painful experience, but one that saw a spectacular reaction from Jason Kreis's side to a difficult — if self-induced — situation.
Real Salt Lake will host yet another lower-division side, Carolina Railhawks, on June 26.
Also of note: Charleston Battery players came out after the final whistle and applauded, as a whole, a family of Battery fans who live in Salt Lake City but flew the yellow and black all night. Goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, who was on the short end of a number of taunts in extra time after conceding three goals, also came out and spoke to Real Salt Lake fans in a show of true sportsmanship.