Real Salt Lake fielded BC Place with the youngest backline in MLS history against a Vancouver FC looking to stop a backslide in MLS standings after 3 straight losses. Both teams headed into the match looking to get their forms back into playoff contender shape.
RSL kicked off the game to immediate pressure on their defense. As soon as Vancouver gained possession of the ball they ran in numbers towards the Salt Lake 18 yard box. The attacking players from RSL responded well to help relieve what pressure they could, including a blocked shot from Rusnak from a quick turn-over counter in the 6th minute.
At 10’ RSL continued to handle the pressure well, move the ball around, and hustled to win back turnovers. Plata won a free kick 30 yards out, but Rusnak’s attempt went straight into the gut of Marinovic.
Blondell split the defense and had a run at Rimando, with a quick recovery from RSL’s CBs and an experienced Rimando smothered out the danger.
Vancouver kept up with the strategy of sending balls and players over or at the young RSL backline. Content with shelling their half of the field they dropped back, quickly aware of the dangerous Salt Lake counter.
Baird tagged the crossbar at 20’ from a curling shot outside of the Whitecaps box at 20’. RSL was gaining the advantage and the top four cycled constantly in the attacking 3rd. Whenever Vancouver broke out down the field RSL got back in numbers and was there covering every player.
By the 25’ Real Salt Lake was looking great with 70% possession. Possibly the best we had seen them play all season.
Mike Petke urged his team on and allowed holding players into the attack. Kreilach made his way into the box multiple times and tried to create some link-up play with Plata on the left side. Meanwhile, Vancouver still tried throwing things at the ‘barely legal’ RSL defense.
A battle developed between Glad and the Whitecap attacking players. A high boot and a foul off the ball both went Glad’s way, showing how aggressive the play was in that part of the field.
After the half-hour mark, the game did settle down a little, but the claret and cobalt kept up the 70% possession with an 85% passing accuracy.
The best chance of the half came from Vancouver in the 40’ with a high press that forced an error and a turn over near the RSL box. Techera found himself wide open and tried to one touch a shot, but ended up skying it into the Pacific.
Joao Plata gave RSL its first corner with a shot on goal that Marinovic forced up and over the crossbar. Watson cleared the corner away and refere Sorin Stoica blew the whistle for half-time.
With all the pressure and running at Nick Rimando in the first half he had to make no saves. The young guns from Salt lake City managed to shut down a strong Vancouver attack and covered themselves quite well.
Real Salt Lake started the second with more possession, swinging the ball from right to left, and back again. Multiple crosses into the Vancouver 18 and another shot on goal from Rusnak. All within the first few minutes of the second half. BC Place was quite a mellow, subdued stadium. Only rarely did they the fans in attendance make noise that was noticeable on the broadcast.
Tactics did not seem to change for either team, and Vancouver seemed content and accepted the RSL passing game and possession. They continued to look dangerous on the counter, but when it came to the final pass or touch they could not seem to get it dialed in just right.
Midfielder Nicolas Mezquida came on for injured Jordan Mutch at 56’, while Mutch was in clear emotional distress from the injury.
Brek Shea gently hit the cross frame from 10 feet away in the 60th minute and the bounce barely curled around the post. A close opportunity again for Vancouver.
The game continued in a settled state. A head injury to Baird delayed play for several minutes and RSL followed that up by a substitution. Petke introduced Ricky Lopez-Espin to the game for his first ever MLS appearance, the 7th RSL player to debut in the MLS this season.
In the 70’ Vancouver, for what seemed like the first time, started to finally see a buildup play. A half-volley forced Rimando to make a mid-air bear claw save. The Whitecaps continued with the pressure until a Besler tackle in box gave Vancouver a PK which the converted into goal in the 75’.
In the celebration of his goal Techera took off his shirt and to rally the fans, not realizing he was already given a yellow card only a few minutes before for a foul on Rimando. Refere Stoica gave him a second yellow foul unsporting behavior.
RSL immediately allowed another goal in despite being up a man. Blondell put the ball in the back of the net off of a short square cross inside the 6 yard box.
After that, the Canadians parked a fat bus in front of their goal. Salt Lake pressed and put plenty of bodies forward and put in every cross they could, but nothing was enough to be a goal. RSL looked great throughout the game up until the PK, but without the goals to come with that great play they leave Canada disappointed and with zero points to be happy about.
75’ VAN - Techera (PK)
79’ VAN - Blondell
REAL SALT LAKE
Rimando; Ruiz, Besler (Saucedo 90+), Glad, Lennon; Kreilach, Beckerman, Rusnak; Plata, Baird (Lopez-Espin 68’), Savarino
Marinovic; Levis (Davies 62’), Aja, Watson, Franklin; Teibert, Aly Ghazal, Shea, Mutch (Mezquida - 56), Techera; Blondell (Ibini-Isei 86’)
72’ VAN - Techera - yellow card
76’ VAN - Techera - yellow card/red card