SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (6-5-3, 21 points, West #3) couldn’t hold on against the Chicago Fire (2-7-2, 8 points, East #8) on Saturday night, giving up an 84th minute equalizer to tie the Eastern Conference side 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL FW Alvaro Saborio put the Claret-and-Cobalt ahead in the 78th minute. The Costa Rican international – who came off the bench in the 62nd after missing the last five games due to injury – rose above two defenders to head MF Ned Grabavoy’s cross past Fire GK Sean Johnson and inside the far post. Unfortunately for RSL, substitute FW Quincy Amarikwa equalized six minutes later, acrobatically poking a flicked header off of a long throw in home from close range.
Real Salt Lake dominated the match, holding a 68-32 percent possession advantage and outshooting the Fire 20-12. Johnson kept the Men-in-Red in the game, making eight saves – several of them spectacular – to hold RSL to just one goal.
RSL had its first chance of the match in the 22nd minute. Grabavoy ran onto a ball in the right side of the area, playing a back heel pass to RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman at the top of the 18. Beckerman hit a hard right-footed shot toward the left post, but Johnson was all over it.
Beckerman had another look one minute later, curling a 25-yard effort just wide of the left post.
RSL continued pressing, registering chances in the 28th and 29th minutes. FW Joao Plata had the first opportunity, collecting a MF Javier Morales through ball just left of center before firing a 30-yard shot that Johnson parried out for a corner. Plata created the second chance, curling a cross in from the left wing that Grabavoy headed on target from the near post for another Johnson save.
Johnson came up big again in the 32nd minute. RSL FW Robbie Findley collected a ball on the right flank, cutting in on his left foot before curling a 20-yarder toward the far post that Johnson tipped wide.
The Fire had its first good look in the 36th minute. MF Joel Lindpere collected a FW Patrick Nyarko pass in the left side of the box, running onto the ball and firing a 15-yard effort just high and wide of RSL GK Nick Rimando’s net.
Nyarko was at the center of another opportunity in the 39th minute. The Ghanaian attacker stripped Morales in RSL’s defensive third, dribbling into the box before hitting a 10-yard shot that RSL DF Carlos Salcedo blocked nicely.
RSL started the second half strongly, nearly going ahead in the 50th minute. Plata crossed from the left corner, lofting his ball over a Fire player and to an open Findley at the top of the six. Unfortunately, Findley couldn’t keep his header on target, nodding the cross just wide of the left post.
Johnson made one of his best saves of the night in the 57th minute. RSL DF Chris Wingert ran onto a layoff 25 yards from goal, ripping a low left footer with his first touch. The ball looked ticketed for the back of the net, but Johnson had other ideas, diving to his right to parry the ball out for a corner.
Johnson topped his stop on Wingert in the 76th minute, cruelly denying a Morales free kick to keep the game level. RSL’s Argentine playmaker stepped to a dead ball just outside the 18 on the left side, curling a right-footed beauty that Johnson somehow got to and miraculously tipped off the crossbar.
RSL finally broke through in the 78th minute, going ahead through Saborio. Substitute MF Sebastian Velasquez started the play, dribbling into the left side of the area before slipping Grabavoy through on the outside. The Chicago-area native served a perfect ball with his first touch, curling a cross into the middle that Saborio headed home powerfully.
Amarikwa equalized for Chicago six minutes later. DF Jalil Anibaba launched a long throw into the box from the right side. DF Austin Berry got on the end of it in in the right side of the area, flicking the ball toward goal to allow Amarikwa to jump up and acrobatically finish past Rimando.
RSL pushed for a winner in the final minutes, but failed to create any true clear cut opportunities.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will return to action on Tuesday, when it will begin its run in the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a third-round match against the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL will return to league play next Saturday, June 1, when it will host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1-1 CHI
- Saturday’s game was RSL FW Alvaro Saborio’s first since April 20. The Costa Rican international missed RSL’s last five matches with a quad injury. Saborio’s goal was his fourth of the season and his first since RSL’s 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids on March 16.
- RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and RSL DF Nat Borchers played their 209th regular season game together on Saturday night, passing former New England Revolution teammates Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis and moving into first-place in MLS history in terms of games played together by teammates.
- RSL GK Nick Rimando became the fourth-player in MLS history to reach 30,000 regular season minutes played on Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt ‘keeper has now played 30,033 regular season minutes, trailing only New York GK Kevin Hartman (37,620), former New England MF and current Houston Assistant Coach Steve Ralston (33,142) and Vancouver GK Joe Cannon (30,731) on the all-time minutes played list.
- Saturday’s game was the 332nd regular season appearance of Rimando’s career. He is now tied for eighth-place in MLS history with RSL Head Scout Andy Williams on the career appearances list. Rimando is third-amongst goalkeepers in games played, trailing Hartman (416) and Cannon (342).
REAL SALT LAKE 1–1 CHICAGO FIRE
SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
Chicago Fire 0 1 1
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez) – 78’
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba) – 84’
CHI – Patrick Nyarko (Yellow; Foul) – 85’
RSL - Javier Morales (Yellow; Dissent) - 94'
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) – Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (C) ; Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil (Sebastian Velasquez, 72’); Javier Morales; Joao Plata (Yordany Alvarez, 83’), Robbie Findley (Alvaro Saborio, 62’)
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Saunders (GK), Khari Stephenson, Abdoulie Mansally, Aaron Maund
Chicago Fire (4-4-2) – Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares; Dilly Duka (Quincy Amarikwa, 74’), Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause (C) (Sherjill MacDonald, 82’), Joel Lindpere; Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe (Alex, 63’)
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi (GK), Hunter Jumper, Michael Videira, Corben Bone
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Mike Rottersman, Jeremy Hanson
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Weather: Clear and 73 degrees