SANDY, Utah (Thursday, September 24, 2015) – Real Salt Lake put forth the type of dominating performance that typically yields a victory. Playing in its first home match in Group G of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League against Santa Tecla FC from El Salvador, RSL held over 61 percent of the possession in the match and put six shots on goal to just one for the visitors.
However, it took late goals from FW Olmes Garcia and FW Juan Manuel Martinez to stage a 2-1 comeback win to take control of the top spot in the group, moving to 2-0-1 (7 points) to outpace the third team in the group, Municipal from Honduras, who is 1-1-1 through three matches. MF Javier Morales assisted on both goals after coming into the match midway through the second half after Santa Tecla scored on its only shot on goal.
The match started off wide open, much different than the smash-and-grab affair that led to a scoreless draw in the first match between the two clubs last week in El Salvador.
MF Luis Gil nearly staked RSL to an early lead in the 25th minute when he lined up a shot from 20 yards out and ripped it past goalkeeper Juan Trinidad, but it missed just outside the right post.
In the 42nd minute, RSL nearly captured the lead on a pair of opportunities. DF Tony Beltran whipped a ball in from the right side, finding FW Joao Plata for a rocketed shot that was saved by Trinidad. The rebound came in the air to FW Sebastian Jaime, but his header caromed off the crossbar and was cleared, keeping the match scoreless.
RSL dominated the first half with 62-percent possession and outshot an overmatched Santa Tecla 7-2. However, the match remained scoreless after 45 minutes.
That dominance continued to start the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Plata slalomed through the Santa Tecla defense, then cut to the middle to turn a shot on goal, but it was saved by Trinidad and RSL was left searching for its breakthrough moment.
One team finally did get on the scoreboard in the 61st minute, but it wasn’t Real Salt Lake. Against the run of play, Santa Tecla sprung Irvin Herrera in behind the Salt Lake defense and while DF Elias Vasquez was able to track him down, Herrera was able to cut a right-footed shot that split the legs of Vasquez and GK Jeff Attinella to give the visitors from El Salvador the 1-0 lead.
The goal ended Real Salt Lake’s Champions League shutout streak at 587 minutes, ending just one match short of setting a new CCL record with six consecutive shutouts in the tournament.
RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar responded by inserting Morales and MF Kyle Beckerman into the lineup and in nearly paid immediate dividends. In the 66th minute, Garcia appeared to net the equalizer when Beckerman played him into space in the box and Garcia deposited a simple touch into the net, but the flag was up and he was whistled offside, leaving the lead at 1-0.
In the 73rd minute, Garcia made sure it counted. Morales swung a ball in from the left side and Garcia rose above his defender to snap a header into the net for the goal to equalize at 1-1.
Within minutes, RSL snared the lead through another substitute, as Martinez deposited another ball from Morales to make it 2-1. This time, the ball was played on the ground to find Martinez in the box and he touched it past the oncoming Trinidad to find the net in the 77th minute.
That was enough to secure the victory as RSL now holds a three-point lead in the group.
RSL will return to MLS play on Sunday, facing the San Jose Earthquakes in a nationally-televised match on Fox Sports 1 at Avaya Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT. The final Group Stage match in Group G to determine which club advances to the Championship Stage will be on October 20 as Real Salt Lake hosts Municipal.
REAL SALT LAKE 2-1 SANTA TECLA FC
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 2 2
Santa Tecla FC 0 1 1
TEC: Irvin Herrrera (William Maldonado) 61’
RSL: Olmes Garcia (Javier Morales) 73’
RSL: Juan Manuel Martinez (Javier Morales) 77’
RSL: Elias Vasquez (Yellow; Foul) 19’
TEC: Diego Chavarria (Yellow; Time-wasting) 39’
TEC: Roberto Dominguez (Yellow; Foul) 73’
Real Salt Lake (4-3-3): Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Elias Vasquez, Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally; Pecka (Javier Morales 65’), Luke Mulholland (Kyle Beckerman 66’), Luis Gil; Joao Plata, Sebastian Jaime (Juan Manuel Martinez 72’), Olmes Garcia.
Substitutes not used: Nick Rimando, Jamison Olave, Jordan Allen, Sebastian Saucedo.
Santa Tecla FC (5-3-2): Juan Trinidad; Roberto Dominguez, Ivan Mancia, Miguel Palafox (Ricardinho 46’), Giovanni Zavaleta; Luis Hinestrosa (Aldair Rivera 69’), Gerson Mayen, Diego Chavarria, Kevin Ayala; Irvin Herrera (Martin Gimenez 75’), William Maldonado.
Substitutes not used: Guillermo Herrera, Bryan Tacamas, Daniel Moreno, Dario Joya.
Referee: Kevin Morrison
Assistant Referees: Keble Williams, Ainsley Rochard
Fourth Official: Dwight Royal
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 75