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RSL scores 5 unanswered to win Open Cup match

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales looks to the ball as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

By Aaron Falk

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jun 12 2013 10:21PM
Updated Jun 14, 2013 06:25AM

Sandy • Real Salt Lake spotted its visitors two goals.

It took RSL extra time once again, but when the final whistle blew Wednesday, Real had taken care of the Charleston Battery 5-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

"I really thought we were a smart enough, experienced veteran team that we wouldn’t have to go through this twice," said RSL coach Jason Kreis, who watched his team put together an overtime win against the Atlanta Silverbacks in Open Cup play earlier this season. "But that’s looking at the negative side of things. The positive side is what a terrific reaction."

Salt Lake scored five unanswered goals to complete its comeback win over the Battery in front of 13,763 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. The victory added one more win — and one more match — to an RSL homestand stretching back to mid-May. RSL’s next Open Cup opponent, the Carolina RailHawks, will play in Sandy on June 26.

"I’m hoping the third time we won’t have to play 120 minutes," Kreis said.

After conceding goals in the 16th and 18th minutes, RSL looked lifeless as it tried to beat Charleston with uninspired crosses into the box and long balls to forward Olmes Garcia that never materialized into threats. But with a restless crowd beginning to sing support, rookie Devon Sandoval headed home a Tony Beltran cross in the 66th minute to cut Charleston’s lead in half.

"I thought [Sandoval’s performance] got better as the night went along," Kreis said. "I actually think he wasn’t the sharpest until he scored that goal. … Then he almost didn’t put a wrong foot the rest of the way."

Striker Joao Plata, who provided a major spark for RSL’s attack after coming on in the second half in place of defender Aaron Maund, leveled the score in the 79th minute, burying a penalty kick in the top left corner to force extra time.

With the momentum behind it, RSL unleashed on Charleston in the first 15 minutes of overtime. Plata provided a cross to Sandoval, who headed in the ultimate game-winner.

But RSL was hardly done there.

Midfielder Khari Stephenson scored his second goal of the Open Cup on a rocket from 25 yards out, and RSL’s Javier Morales added one more for measure, beating Charleston goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper with a stutter-step penalty kick in the final minute of the first overtime.

Real coach Jason Kreis had been vocal about his desire to win this year’s Open Cup, a tournament that has traditionally given RSL trouble. Kreis put out a strong lineup Wednesday, with defender Maund the lone selection who had yet to log first-team minutes this year.

But the Battery have a history of handling MLS teams in the Open Cup. Charleston beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 to reach the tournament’s fourth round. A win over RSL would have given the South Carolina team its 10th Open Cup win over a Major League Soccer club.

Former RSL draft pick Jarad van Schaik, a second-round selection in 2011 who was never offered a contract, connected on a long pass up the left flank to Dane Kelly. The Charleston forward slotted a shot past RSL goalkeeper Josh Saunders to give the Battery a 16th-minute lead and stun the crowd.

RSL hardly had a chance to collect itself before forward Quinton Griffith banged a shot off the post and midfielder Nicki Paterson cleaned up the rebound to double Charleston’s lead in the 18th minute.

afalk@sltrib.com" target="_blank">class="TEXT_no_Indent">afalk@sltrib.com

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