Leading early through a Damir Kreilach goal, RSL controlled the first half. The second half, however, was all about Minnesota United, with the traveling team putting RSL to the test with their counterattacking play.
Damir Kreilach opened the occasion for Real Salt Lake with an 11th minute goal, scoring with a grounded shot from outside the box after dribbling his way through Minnesota’s defense. It was a superb bit of solo skill from the midfielder, who scored his 11th goal of the season with the strike.
Damir showing 'em how it's done. pic.twitter.com/NvzBG32Mj4— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) September 16, 2018
The play leading into the goal was a herald of sorts, with Kreilach flubbing his lines in the box after a well-placed Jefferson Savarino pass — but it was at that point that you truly knew that Minnesota was cracking.
Minnesota United were forced into an early change after forward Abu Danladi went down in the 22nd minute. Rasmus Schüller replaced him at the next stoppage.
RSL attacked in waves throughout the first half, looking unmistakably the better side as Minnesota struggled to keep up with the likes of Jefferson Savarino,
Minnesota waited until the 33rd minute to really threaten, when they broke free on a counterattack with only Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera in good defensive positions and Nick Besler recovering. Some defensive communication kept play competitive, but it was a timely clearance from Nick Besler, who has acquitted himself extremely well at center back, that kept RSL in the lead.
The action continued, as it always does: Plata hit the post 34th minute with a scything shot from outside the box, and it rebounded out for a goal kick, and when Minnesota next made it into the box, they were inches away from another dangerous play before Aaron Herrera cleared the ball long upfield for a throw-in.
Not long after the second half kicked off, RSL found themselves under the gun on a breakaway — a bit of a pattern in the match — and with Nick Rimando and two Minnesota players closing in, Justen Glad managed a clearance for a goal kick. It wasn’t quite a goal-line clearance, but it was certainly a close enough chance that RSL will count themselves fortunate.
The 58th minute brought more danger, with Nick Rimando saving a shot one-on-one with Romario, Nick Besler closing in with a tackle inside the box. It was another case of RSL needing big plays to stay in control.
Minnesota nearly leveled in the 69th minute — noticing a trend? — when Romario burst past Brooks Lennon at right back, rounded into the box, and pinged a ball off another Minnesota player at pace — that rebound went out for a goal kick, saving RSL’s hide again.
Minnesota leveled in the 85th minute, with RSL’s lackluster defending costing a goal when Miguel Ibarra, unmarked in the box, chipped Nick Rimando from close range. It was absolutely reflective of the second half, with RSL more or less asleep at the wheel.
It got worse for RSL, with Minnesota apparently leveling just minutes later — the 87th — in what we know as “doing an RSL against Houston.” Kevin Stott spent a good deal of time after the play in conversation with his linesman and listening over his earpiece, then went to video review. The goal was called back for offside, handing RSL a life line when they desperately needed one.
With five minutes of added time, it was desperation days for Real Salt Lake, for whom a win would have been absolutely essential in the playoff chase pre-match. That might be tempered somewhat by a shocker in the Houston-Portland match, with Portland losing 3-1, but it didn’t change the urgency for RSL and their limited home matches.
- 64’ RSL — Kyle Beckerman, yellow card
- 74’ Minnesota —Maximiniano, yellow card
- 76’ Minnesota — Wyatt Omsberg, yellow card
- RSL 1-0 Minnesota United, 11’ — Damir Kreilach
- RSL 1-1 Minnesota United, 85’ — Miguel Ibarra
Real Salt Lake
Lennon, Besler, Glad, Herrera
Sunny (Saucedo, 90’), Beckerman (66’, Ruiz)
Savarino, Rusnak (Baird, 80’), Plata
Bench: Putna, Acosta, Barry, Mulholland, Ruiz, Saucedo, Baird