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Damir Kreilach takes over as RSL find nervy 2-1 win over Chicago Fire

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It was a nervy match for RSL in which they never looked as good as they should.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It was, it turns out, time for a Real Salt Lake win at home, with Damir Kreilach the hero in a 2-1 win against Chicago Fire.

RSL started as the aggressor, but it was Chicago Fire that nearly had the opening goal early in the match. Aaron Herrera, playing left back again, found himself being spun by Chicago’s Raheem Edwards; Alan Gordon’s header from the cross splayed unremarkably wide.

Gordon, of course, who hadn’t scored against RSL since 2012. Long memories have left him as a bit of an RSL foe, though one could easily argue there is no true justification to that declaration.

And again, a poor moment from an RSL defender — Justen Glad this time — nearly ended in a deficit for RSL. The center back set himself up for failure with some miscommunication and poor passing in the back, but Chicago’s profligacy was again the team’s savior.

Moments later — really, moments — Brooks Lennon, on the edge of the box after having come up from his right back spot, found a scorching shot saved — tipped luckily onto the bar, really — by Chicago goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland.

Continued attacking motions from RSL didn’t produce a goal, with Joao Plata going close, Corey Baird having an opportunity from a corner kick, and the whole of RSL being unable to purchase a goal.

It continued to be a ridiculously back-and-forth match; Raheem Edwards went close from a Chicago throw-in, with his placed header simply being placed wide of the goal rather than firmly within it.

And so it went for the course of the first half, with RSL finding roughly two opportunities for every one of Chicago’s. The only problem? Both teams were, in a word, real bad. Or in two words, I suppose. It was enough to make one terribly bored at the sight of an exciting soccer game.

It nearly happened for Chicago, though. From a throw-in deep in RSL’s half, Luis Solignac found himself dreadfully free of any defenders and nearly capitalized with a looping reverse header. It took all of Nick Rimando’s leaping ability (or at least a sizable portion of it) to undo the mistake his defenders did, and the score remained level.

And just when it sure looked like RSL was going to head into their locker room without a goal, Damir Kreilach turned things around with a magnificent header past Cleveland (the goalkeeper, not the city) for the opening 1-0 goal. Jefferson Savarino was the distributor, with his header timed by the stopwatch of the sublime. It was truly something, and it was what RSL needed before the halftime whistle sounded.

Because I love you, here is the goal.

The second half started largely in the same way, with Chicago very nearly scoring inside the first minute of play, then nearly again in the second minute of play. It was a poor way to kick off a second half after you scraped out of the first half with a lead, and only just.

Then, it happened. The famous guy, Bastian Schweinsteiger, scored a goal he was well-qualified to score: A world class strike from outside the box that nestled perfectly in the upper corner of Nick Rimando’s net. It was perhaps the most just goal you’ll see, because RSL, quite frankly, was asking for it with a casual start.

Here’s that goal, too.

Drew Conner, remarkably, drew the first yellow card of the match — a match that featured elbows from Alan Gordon and Kyle Beckerman, as well as some obvious moments of cautionable dissent — when he went flying through Jefferson Savarino.

RSL nearly found a go-ahead goal through the feet of Jefferson Savarino, but the winger was whistled for offside after putting the ball in the back of the net. Rightly so; replays showed the Venezuelan in an offside position when Corey Baird struck the ball. Cleveland’s save didn’t change the course of that particular play.

The match nearly changed direction again, with Joao Plata placing a free header directly at Cleveland as RSL mounted an effort at winning the match. In this case, it did appear that RSL’s energy was benefited by the called-back Savarino goal, and while the goal would certainly have been preferable to nebulous energy, there was a certain intensity to the play that had been absent for most of 60 minutes.

With fireworks on the cards at the completion of the match, Damir Kreilach rescued hope for the crowd with a second goal. It was a well-timed run — of course it was — and a finish at the back post, but the goal was truly made by Jefferson Savarino, who gets the kind-of-statistically-meaningless second assist on the play. His proclivity to hold onto the ball in tight situations was to RSL’s benefit this time. Plata found the final pass on the play, and his cross skidded along the grass between defenders and the goalkeeper.

Cue the goal.

Jefferson Savarino had a chance to seal victory for RSL in the 84th minute, but an outstretched right foot from Grover Stefan Cleveland stopped what was arguably one of the best chances he’ll see all year. It certainly didn’t negate his otherwise excellent impact on the match, but it would have been a useful goal for the team trying to seal a victory.

Kreilach nearly had his hat trick (a phrase I wasn’t thinking I’d be saying heading into this one) when Joao Plata expertly dummied an Albert Rusnak pass into the box — his shot was saved and parried out for an RSL corner.

Following the final whistle, Bastian Schweinsteiger found himself on the redceiving end of a yellow card, shown after he aggressively approached match referee Kevin Stott for some perceived bit of injustice.

Lineups

Real Salt Lake

Rimando
Lennon, Glad, M. Silva, Herrera
Beckerman, Kreilach
Savarino (90’ Saucedo), Rusnak (90’ Besler), Plata
Baird (86’ Sunny)

Bench: Putna, Barry, Acosta, Sunny, Saucedo, Besler, Ruiz

Chicago Fire

Cleveland
Ellis, Campos (32’ Hasler), Corrales (45’ Schweinsteiger), Campbell, Vincent
Edwards (69’ Katai), Conner, Tchani, Solignac
Gordon

Bench: Bronico, Katai, Sanchez, Nikolic, Hasler, Schweinsteiger, Adams

Goals

  • 45+3’ RSL 1-0 Chicago, Damir Kreilach
  • 48’ RSL 1-1 Chicago, Bastian Schweinsteiger
  • 75’ RSL 2-1 Chicago, Damir Kreilach