Real Salt Lake is bringing a point back from Canada.
RSL got a spectacular second-half goal from forward Olmes Garcia before surrendering a late penalty-kick goal to earn a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
“Anytime you walk out of a road place with a point, that’s a result,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “And it’s that kind of result that you’re going to need toward the end of the season if you’ve got any chance to make a statement in the playoffs.”
After coming on as a second-half substitute, Garcia showed why Salt Lake’s front office has been so high on the 20-year-old Colombian. Garcia took a pass from Javier Morales in the 66th minute, settled just outside the left corner of the 18-yard box and launched a curling shot that slipped past the outstretched arms of Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon for his first Major League Soccer goal.
Garcia earned a yellow card when he stripped off his jersey in celebration.
But RSL’s hopes of leaving Canada with three points for the first time in team history were dashed only minutes later.
In the 85th minute, defender Nat Borchers slipped on the turf inside the penalty box and a bouncing ball hit his arm. A handball was called, setting up a penalty kick to equalize things. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando guessed left and Camilo Sanvezzo blasted a shot through the space the keeper vacated to tie the match at 1-1.
“The handball. I don’t know. It’s questionable,” Rimando said. “Sometimes the ref will call it, and sometimes he won’t. But it’s not intentional.”
For Rimando, the goal was the only blemish on an otherwise spectacular day. His six saves kept RSL in a match that Vancouver dominated in the first half.
“Rimando has just been electrifying for us at the beginning of the year,” Kreis said. “Typically he takes a little longer to get going, but he’s been amazing. [He has] kept us in multiple games now, given us a chance to pick up points.”
Borchers had a shot at redemption in stoppage time, getting his head on a Luis Gil corner kick. But Cannon pushed the ball over the crossbar to preserve the draw.
RSL struggled offensively in the game’s first half, managing only one shot in 45 minutes.
“We struggled,” Kreis said. “But rather than folding up shop and allowing a goal, and we probably could have allowed multiple goals at that point, the guys stayed pretty focused. It was a pretty mature performance, and the guys just got better and better as the game went on.”
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, who injured his rib during training on Friday, left the game after about 30 minutes. Kreis said after the match he “made an error” in playing Beckerman, costing the team a substitution.
RSL (2-2-2) returns to Utah for three straight home games after playing five of its first seven matches on the road to start the season.
Storylines RSL ties in Canada
R Olmes Garcia scores in the 66th minute for RSL’s only goal.
• A penalty kick in the 84th minute gives Vancouver the equalizer.