Sandy • Sitting comfortably in the vacated locker next to his, his right eye still the proud owner of a shiner from Tuesday’s disheartening U.S. Open Cup final loss, his eyebrow still owning lingering stitches, Ned Grabavoy spoke of adversity.
The Real Salt Lake midfielder found a silver lining in his team’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium on a crisp fall night in Sandy.
O RSL is forced to play a man down for 75 minutes following Abdoulie Mansally’s red card in the 17th minute.
RSL 1, FC Dallas 1
FC Dallas 0 1 — 1
Real Salt Lake 0 1 — 1
First half » None.
Second half » 1, Real Salt Lake, Saborio 11, 60th minute. 2, FC Dallas, Cooper 4 (Watson), 72nd.
Goalies » FC Dallas, Chris Seitz Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando.
Yellow Cards » Perez, FC Dallas, 13th Morales, Real Salt Lake, 69th Luccin, FC Dallas, 78th.
Red Card » Mansally, Real Salt Lake, 17th
Referee » Hilario Grajeda. Assistant Referees—Ian Anderson. Kevin Duliba. 4th Official—Jesus Cisneros.
FC Dallas » Chris Seitz, George John, Jair Benitez, Stephen Keel, Michel (Peter Luccin, 61st), Mauro Diaz (Kenny Cooper, 46th), Jackson, Kellyn Acosta, Andrew Jacobson, Fabian Castillo (Je-Vaughn Watson, 70th), Blas Perez.
RSL » Nick Rimando, Kenny Mansally, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Luis Gil, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Yordany Alvarez, 81st), Alvaro Saborio (Olmes Garcia, 85th), Robbie Findley (Lovel Palmer, 21st).
His team went down a man in the 17th minute when defender Abdoulie Mansally was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Dallas midfielder Jackson.
From there, RSL, losers of its last two home matches, suddenly was thrust into the position of trying to avoid a sudden losing streak — at home of all places.
"You see a red card come out and you kind of feel like things haven’t really been going your way lately," Grabavoy said, "but in saying that, maybe that was good for this team to be under adversity like that in tough conditions and battle all night and fight. … Maybe we need that to turn and right the ship."
They didn’t get what they wanted. RSL didn’t get three points. They weren’t able to punch their ticket to MLS Cup playoffs with a win over FC Dallas, but for over 75 minutes, they found a way to sustain an attack thinned by the ejection of Mansally.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando had three stellar first-half saves, including a two-on-one situation in which he deflected a direct shot on goal by Jackson.
At halftime, coach Jason Kreis told his players that being down to 10 men could be a "really good thing."
"Because we’ve been under so much pressure to try to play and create attacking chances and score goals and be dominant over our opponents that maybe now this just gives us a chance to work hard, stay together and the objective will be done," Kreis said of his halftime message.
All things considered, their objective was reached.
In the 60th minute, forward Alvaro Saborio had his moment.
The Costa Rican star anticipated a long ball played forward in a sea of FC Dallas defenders and was able to maneuver his way through Stephen Keel and Jair Benitez to slip his right-footed shot outside the box past the outstretched arms of former RSL goalie Chris Seitz.
"The work he put in to get that finish off was great," Kreis said.
The task of protecting a 1-0 lead down a man proved to be too difficult. FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper equalized in the 72nd minute off a deflection save by Rimando.
While the three points didn’t come, nor did an early playoff berth, the resounding notion was, for once, a tie in Salt Lake City was a win for the home side.
"We didn’t cower back in our own end of the field the whole game," said defender Nat Borchers. "We were able to put pressure on them."
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