Chester, Pa. • Same result every year. So why bother?
“We always tie here,” laughed Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman after RSL and the Philadelphia Union battled to a 2-2 draw, making it four ties in four tries on their trips to suburban Philadelphia’s PPL Park.
“I don’t know why we even play the game.
“We should just take the tie and go home. Or even better, not even make the trip.”
On the other hand, RSL is 2-0-1 at home vs. the Union, whom they won’t face again this season.
Fighting for a .500 franchise
An RSL victory not only would’ve been worth three valuable points in the standings. It would’ve enabled the franchise to reach the .500 mark for the first time since early in its inception year, 2005.
Currently 107-108-77, that might not seem like much until you realize that on May 24, 2008, RSL lost to Dallas to fall to 32 below (.500).
Since then, it’s been a steady uphill climb towards respectability.
Holding its own on the road
While the pleasures of home are always nice, RSL has repeatedly shown it can hold its own with anyone when it takes to the road. Saturday’s draw gives the team at least a point in nine of its last 11 games on enemy turf.
“We think that we can go most places and win games,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. “We’ve won a few and we let a few slip away for ties, but they’re not losses.
“We just need to clean some of these things up.”
After home games with Portland and Vancouver, RSL’s next road game will be May 3 in Chicago.
Union creates chaos
So how have things changed for RSL since its dramatic finish last season that fell just short of winning the MLS Cup?
“I think that every team recognizes that Real plays good soccer. Good possession soccer,’’ RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. “Philly wanted to come out and disrupt that tonight and they did a good job of that.’’
The Union had to settle for ties in three of their first five games after frittering away late leads.
“After they got some adrenaline from tying the score, [I] could feel it drop a little,’’ said Beckerman, whose goal in the 85th minute looked like a game winner until Philadelphia tied it five minutes later. “We knew they’d given up a couple of goals late, so that was in back of our mind.”