It was a bittersweet finish to the Visit Tucson Sun Cup for Real Salt Lake, as RSL lifted the trophy despite losing the final match to conclude the club’s 10-day preseason trip to Arizona.
Real Salt Lake fell 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in the final match of the tournament, but a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids and a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising FC clinched the cup for RSL.
“We’re never happy with losing in anything we do but overall when you look at the process and the 10 days that we were here, you couldn’t ask for more from the guys,” Juarez said. “We got a little sharper as the game went on and I thought we created some chances to tie the game and maybe go ahead. That’s the game, but if you look at the overall 10 days and it’s been very positive. The work the guys have put in has been excellent.”
After a slow start to the match, both teams had a series of chances as the first half wore on. David Ochoa made a 16th minute save on a shot from Sebastian Lletget. On the other end, Justin Meram and Anderson Julio had shots stopped in the 36th minute.
LA took the lead in the 44th minute on a goal from Victor Vasquez. Chicharito got into the box and had his shot defended, but the ball spilled into the path of Vasquez for a shot into the open net. Rubio Rubin had a chance to level it after rounding the LA goalkeeper, but he couldn’t find the net and RSL went into halftime trailing 1-0.
RSL continued with opportunities to equalize in the second half. Off of a corner kick, Erik Holt settled and shot. His effort was blocked and the rebound spilled to Damir Kreilach for a shot, but Jonathan Bond made a sprawling save to keep Salt Lake off the board. Rubin had another chance denied in the 83rd minute when his bicycle kick attempt was covered by Bond for the save and the match ended 1-0.
“It was a very difficult game because the Galaxy had quality in the team. In the first half we didn’t find each other, but credit goes to the Galaxy. Even with the control that they had, their only chance was the goal they scored,” Kreilach said. “We had a couple of great opportunities, especially in the first half. Unfortunately we didn’t put those chances away.”
RSL finished with six points in the tournament to win the trophy and Kreilach was named tournament MVP after scoring two goals in the first match against the Rapids. While the result wasn’t what RSL was looking for, it didn’t overshadow the 10-days of work.
“To win any trophy is a good feeling. It gives you confidence as a team,” Kreilach said. “We want to take this as a positive and be ready for the first game against Minnesota.”
Real Salt Lake returns to Utah on Saturday night and will resume training on Tuesday in preparation for the start of the 2021 MLS regular season. RSL opens the season on the road on April 24 against Minnesota United FC before returning to Rio Tinto Stadium for the home opener on May 1 (Noon MT kickoff) against Sporting Kansas City.
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): David Ochoa; Andrew Brody (Aaron Herrera 61’), Erik Holt (Justen Glad 61’), Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia; Everton Luiz (Douglas Martinez 75’), Pablo Ruiz; Anderson Julio (Maikel Chang 75’), Damir Kreilach, Justin Meram (Albert Rusnak 61’); Rubio Rubin.
LA Galaxy (4-4-2): Jonathan Bond; Oniel Fisher (Julian Araujo 38’), Daniel Steres (Jalen Neal 73’), Nick DePuy, Jorge Villafana; Victor Valdez (Efrain Alvarez 62’), Samuel Grandsir (Cameron Dunbar 25’), Adam Saldana (Daniel Agguire 85’), Jonathan Dos Santos (Carlos Harvey 67’); Sebastian Lletget (Jonathan Perez 78’), Javier Hernandez (Ethan Zubak 89’).