Real Salt Lake closed out their preseason campaign with a 3-2 loss against Phoenix Rising FC in the Visit Tucson Sun Cup. A late push fueled by Justin Meram and Giuseppe Rossi showed some promise as the match came to a close.
Freddy Juarez went with another interesting lineup despite more of the preferred starters making an appearance. The most notable spots saw Justen Glad starting at right back while Aaron Herrera moved up to the right wing. Zac MacMath got the start in goal for the third game in a row, giving us a pretty clear indication of who Juarez has in mind to start next week against Orlando.
RSL got things started early on when Herrera collected a long ball over the top and ran toward goal. Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin came off his line to try and shut him down, but Herrera slid and was able to dish the ball off over to a waiting Damir Kreilach. Kreilach took his time, set up the shot and was able to easily send the ball into the net to put RSL up 1-0 in the first half.
It didn’t take long for Phoenix to find their answer when they won a free kick after Justen Glad committed a foul outside the penalty box. Jon Bakero set up and sent a long free kick in over the wall that looked like it was heading into the net. MacMath made the jump to the corner to try and cover, but the ball bounced off the post and fell right to the feet of an unmarked Joey Farrell. With MacMath out of position, Farrell was able to kick it straight in an empty net to tie it up in the 19th minute.
Phoenix added to their total in the 40th minute thanks to a goal from Solomon Asante. After a long throw-in from Phoenix into the middle of the penalty box, a header sent the ball back into the air, and Asante ran in past Toia on the far post and drilled it in past a stunned MacMath, taking a 2-1 lead just before the halftime break.
Phoenix notched another in the 57th minute when Asante sent a cross in from the right side. Onuoha got a foot to it to try and clear it, but the ball went straight to Bakero who sent in a left-footed scorcher that found its way to the top left corner. MacMath, completely outstretched, couldn’t do anything about it as Phoenix took a 3-1 lead.
Once Justin Meram and Giuseppe Rossi both came into the game, the momentum shifted a bit as RSL started moving forward a little more.
That came to fruition in the 89th minute when Rossi sent a ball from the middle to Meram on the left side, who took on a defender 1v1 with some fancy footwork, and was able to send a left-footed shot in past their keeper to bring the score to 3-2.
That’s all they would have time for, though, and the game ended with that same score line. RSL kicks off the regular season next Saturday the 29th on the road against Orlando City SC.
RSL’s starting lineup:
MacMath; Glad (76’ Chang), Silva, Onuoha, Toia; Portillo, Beckerman (77’ Besler); Herrera, Rusnak, Schmitt (72’ Meram); Kreilach (67’ Rossi)