Real Salt Lake’s reserves drew 1-1 with the Mexico Under-21 National Team at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a fiery affair in front of a partisan crowd of a couple thousand Mexican supporters.
In the first half, Real Salt Lake came out intent to possess the ball, attempting to employ the tight passing that's the hallmark of their first team. And they found success for the first several minutes before the Mexican team began to adjust and started to impose their style by getting the ball in dangerous positions and making diagonal runs into open space.
RSL's Nelson Gonzalez seemed to draw the ire of several Mexican players as his tenacious style of play was not to their liking. He picked up one of the three yellow cards in what was a scoreless, but contentious first half.
In the second half, Gonzalez made his mark, slipping a nifty through ball to forward Pablo Campos, who was unmarked inside the area. Campos had no difficulty sneaking a shot past Mexican ‘keeper Miguel Baez to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Tempers really began to flair about 10 minutes later. After defender Rauwshon McKenzie made a tackle near the midfield stripe, one of the Mexican players approached in a hostile manner and received a hand to the face for his efforts. The referee appeared to miss the action, and a brawl ensued. RSL's Jean Alexandre saw red, and the home side was forced to play the remaining 22 minutes down a man.
That ejection turned out to be key to the result as the Mexicans were able to pull equal in the 84th minute. With El Tri beginning to dominate possession, they earned a free kick just outside of the area. Erbin Trejo was able to step up and place it perfectly in the upper right corner of the net, away from Kyle Reynish’s outstretched hands to earn the draw.
For RSL, the match was notable in one aspect: the debut of 16-year-old Luis Gil in a Real Salt Lake uniform. Though the starlet appeared to struggle in several aspects, and especially didn’t do well connecting with his teammates.
“It was pretty bad,” a highly self-critical Gil said after the match. “I really wanted to play against this team. My dad’s from [Mexico] and so I wanted to show that I could play against them.”
RSL head coach Jason Kreis was a little more understanding about the situation.
“He hasn’t had any match experience with us," Kreis said. "He showed what we thought. He makes quite a few mistakes – he’s a young player – it’s typical.”
Kreis feels this is just part of the process for the promising young US international prospect.
“We’re still trying to get him to understand what’s demanded of him as far as commitment level, and defending, and all of those sorts of things,” he added.
RSL – Pablo Campos (Nelson Gonzalez) 57
MEX – Erbin Trejo (unassisted) 84
Real Salt Lake (4-4-2) – GK-Kyle Reynish; DF-Lyle Adams, DF-Rauwshan McKenzie, DF-Chris Schuler, DF-Tony Beltran; MF-Collen Warner, MF-Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy 62), MF-Jean Alexandre, MF-Nelson Gonzalez; FW-Pablo Campos, FW-Tiyi Shipalane
Statistics: Shots: 8; Shots on Goal: 2; Saves: 6; Fouls: 21; Corners: 3; Offside: 1
Mexico U-21s (3-4-3) – GK-Alejandro Dautt (Miguel Angel Centeno 45); DF-Jaime Ayala (Israel Jimenez 73), DF-Piccolo Rojo, DF-Hiram Mier; MF-Cesar Cercado (David Izazola 73), MF-Daniel Hernandez, MF-Erbin Trejo, MF-Moises Velasco; FW-Leopolodo Morales, FW-Armando Pulido (Jesus Duenas 54), FW-Antonio Salazar
Statistics: Shots: 17; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 1; Fouls: 12; Corners: 8; Offside: 1
RSL – Jean Alexandre (caution; Tactical Foul) 22
RSL – Nelson Gonzalez (caution; Tactical Foul) 40
MEX – Daniel Hernandez (caution; Verbal Distraction) 45
MEX – Moises Velasco (caution; Tactical Foul) 47
RSL – Lyle Adams (caution; Tactical Foul) 51
MEX – Alejandro Dautt (bench) (ejection; Abusive Language) 67
RSL – Jean Alexandre (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 68
MEX – Piccolo Rojo (caution; Verbal Distraction) 76
Referee: Jeff Young
Referee's Assistants: Brad Jensen, Alex Krelo
4th Official: Brandon Major
Time of Game: 1:47