SANDY, Utah -- Real Salt Lake eked out a stoppage-time draw with the Seattle Sounders in the defending MLS Cup champions' home opener on Saturday night in front of a nearly sellout crowd of 19,970 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Seattle opened the scoring in the 12th minute despite Salt Lake creating most of the opening chances. Steve Zakuani was able to get out wide and past RSL defender Robbie Russell, who was shaded too far centrally. Sounders forward Fredy Montero played a well-weighted ball into space. The speedy Zakuani was able to take his time, measure the shot and blasted it to the right, where it glanced off of the foot of RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando and into the net.
Salt Lake returned to being the more dangerous team immediately after the whistle with midfielder Will Johnson forcing Kaset Keller to make a save with a long blast from the top of the 18. Shortly after, Keller snuffed out a cross that went across the goal mouth that looked extremely dangerous.
In the 35th minute, Salt Lake suffered a blow when Javier Morales had to come off due to a right groin injury and was replaced by Andy Williams. The Argentine had keyed much of Real Salt Lake’s attack up until that point.
Overall, the first half saw Real Salt Lake playing the role of aggressor, and Seattle taking advantage of wide-open space in the other end with its strong counterattack ability, led by Montero, Zakuani and Freddie Ljungberg.
The second half opened with more of an up-and-down flow. In the 53rd minute, midfielder Will Johnson put away a header off a long cross along the sideline by Russell.
Seattle regained the lead in the 72nd minute. Ljungberg took a free kick that veered toward the far post and through a crowd of players. The ball appeared headed past the end-line but glanced off defender Nat Borchers for an own goal.
RSL nearly scored an equalizer eight minutes later when Fabián Espíndola put a nice cross into the box to second-half substitute Álvaro Saborío, who was stationed directly in front of the goal. But the Costa Rican international was sandwiched by two defenders and his attempted header went wide.
But he atoned with less than 30 seconds left in stoppage time. RSL
substitute midfielder Nelson Gonzalez took a corner kick from the right
side of the goal, and the well-placed ball caught the head of Saborío,
who directed it past Keller to rescue the point for the defending
SEA -- Steve Zakuani 1 (Fredy Montero 2, James Riley 1) 11
RSL -- Will Johnson 1 (Robbie Russell 1, Robbie Findley 2) 53
SEA -- own goal (Nat Borchers) 72
RSL -- Álvaro Saborío 1 (Nelson Gonzalez 1) 94+
SEA -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Reckless Tackle) 56+
RSL -- Chris Wingert (caution; Tactical Foul) 60+
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: -Frank Anderson; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-60-degrees
Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah