Real Salt Lake lost a difficult match against New York Red Bulls on the road tonight, but the story afterward is more about two controversial red cards and a superb second-half defensive effort than it is about the loss.
It didn't take long for Real Salt Lake to concede, with Mike Grella scoring at the far post with defensive miscues leaving Nick Rimando in no position to make a save. That fourth minute goal was a blow to RSL's chances, but not particularly a surprising one, with the team struggling to maintain or build any sort of possession.
With the first half winding down, Javier Morales was sent off with a straight red card on a questionable call — with New York breaking down the center of the field, Morales made a clumsy challenge about 35 yards from Nick Rimando's goal, prompting a call from referee David Gantar's fourth official. Morales was ostensibly sent off for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, although at that distance, it's at best a debatable decision.
Only ten minutes after the second half started, Demar Phillips was sent off for a hard challenge inside the RSL half, sending the side down to nine men.
From there, the match turned into a single-minded effort to hold back the floodwaters, and the team did — nine men kept the Red Bulls at bay, with Nick Rimando making some key stops and the rest of the team putting in as full a shift as you could hope for.
Cassar, with 10 minutes to play, sent on Olmes Garcia for Justen Glad as the team sent out one last desperate gasp for a goal, and while the team didn't equalize, the thought behind the substituting nearly played out brilliantly.
Justen Glad, 18, continued in the lineup for only his second MLS start. John Stertzer replaced Kyle Beckerman in the lineup, who was absent after reviving a yellow card accumulation suspension.