Tucson, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake put an exclamation point on the preseason Saturday with a short-handed 2-1 win over the rival Colorado Rapids in the championship match of the 2015 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
RSL got goals from Olmes Garcia and Javier Morales, the second coming just after Alvaro Saborio was sent off with his second yellow card of the match. The Claret-and-Cobalt withstood the loss of the club’s all-time leading scorer and held on for the 2-1 win, shifting the club’s full attention to the MLS season-opener on March 7 against the Portland Timbers.
Real Salt Lake got on the board first in the eighth minute with a goal from Garcia. After a build-up on the right side, Luis Gil ended with the ball in the box, crossing it for Garcia at the far post for a simple tap into the open net and a 1-0 lead.
In the 24th minute, Alvaro Saborio nearly made it 2-0 when he got out on a run into the box. He rounded goalkeeper Clint Irwin and rolled his shot toward the open net, but Bobby Burling slid in for the clearance just inside the six-yard box.
The score would even up in the 28th minute when Colorado got out on the run. Michael Harrington crossed the ball into the box from the left side and after Lucas Pittinari misplayed the ball, Vicente Sanchez squared up the loose ball and shot on frame, though his effort was stopped by Nick Rimando. Dillon Serna pounced on the rebound and knocked it into the open net to draw the score level at 1-1.
The match remained even until halftime and the second half started with some fireworks.
In the 50th minute, RSL was given a free kick from 26 yards out just right of center. As Morales lined up for the set piece, Saborio was shown his second yellow card of the match for an ejection, leaving RSL playing with 10 men for the final 40 minutes.
That didn’t matter on the ensuing free kick, as Morales bent his majestic shot into the upper corner, just outside the reach of Irwin for a 2-1 lead.
Head Coach Jeff Cassar subbed on Devon Sandoval, Luke Mulholland and later Jordan Allen to shift into a four-man midfield to hold onto that advantage and Rimando was left to make just two saves in the final 40 minutes, neither of which did too much to test him and RSL held on for the 2-1 victory to win the 2015 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
RSL will return to Utah on Sunday and begin preparations for the 2015 season opener with training on Tuesday. The first match will be Saturday, March 7 against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park in Portland.
Feb. 18 – Real Salt Lake 1 vs. New England Revolution 0 (Sandoval, 7’)
Feb. 21 – Real Salt Lake 3 vs. FC Tucson 1 (Saborio, 41’, 58’; Sandoval, 68’)
Feb. 25 – Real Salt Lake 2 vs. Sporting Kansas City 1 (Welshman, 12’; Sandoval, 47’)
Feb. 28 – Real Salt Lake 2 vs. Colorado Rapids 1 (Garcia, 8’; Morales, 51’)
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
February 28, 2015 – North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex (Tucson, Arizona)
Real Salt Lake 2, Colorado Rapids 1
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Abdoulie Mansally, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Jordan Allen 83), Javier Morales, Sebastian Jaime (Devon Sandoval 54), Alvaro Saborio, Olmes Garcia (Luke Mulholland 68).
Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin, James Riley, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjolberg, Michael Harrington, Marcelo Sarvas, Lucas Pittinari, Vicente Sanchez, Gabriel Torres, Dillon Serna (Carlos Alvarez 78), Dominique Badji.
RSL: 8’ – Olmes Garcia (Luis Gil)
COL: 28’ – Dillon Serna
RSL: 51’ – Javier Morales
RSL: 13’ – Alvaro Saborio (caution)
RSL: 16’ – Kyle Beckerman (caution)
COL: 41’ – Bobby Burling (caution)
RSL: 50’ – Alvaro Saborio (caution/ejection)
COL: 55’ – Gabriel Torres (caution)