There were roaring cheers and people chanting his name as he stepped onto the field Saturday night, something Robbie Findley hasn’t been able to do often this season.
An offseason knee surgery brought lingering soreness into the new year and, most recently, an adductor strain has kept him out of action. In all, the Real Salt Lake forward had logged just 88 minutes in two appearances coming into the night.
So his second-half substitution against Vancouver was a welcomed sight for Findley’s teammates and fans alike.
"I thought when Robbie came into the game he changed the entire game, which is not a surprise," defender Chris Wingert said. "He’s just an unbelievable weapon."
A penalty soon put RSL in a 1-0 hole. RSL coach Jeff Cassar made another offensive substitution, opting to play with just three defenders in the back. And Findley’s speed helped overload the Vancouver defense.
"It’s not something that I want to do all the time, putting three in the back — especially against a team that played with three up top — but it’s something that we needed," Cassar said. "It brought in a lot of energy and it really was threatening, a lot of it from Joao [Plata] and Robbie, but if we go to it that means that we’re behind."
Plata provided the equalizer in the 81st minute.
But in extra time, Findley had a chance at a game-winner. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman played a perfect ball over the defense and onto Findley’s foot in the 93rd minute. The speedy striker got behind the back line, but collided with Vancouver keeper David Ousted.
RSL will monitor Findley after he played 32 minutes Saturday.
"I’ll talk with the rest of the coaches and see how Robbie feels after the game," Cassar said. "He’s had a great last eight days of training — before that, he wasn’t able to train, fully — so I think we’re starting to see him get close to 100 percent. You can see his explosion in his run tonight, and that was really nice to see. I think we’re moving forward nicely."
Findley says he’s anxious for his next opportunity.
"It feels good to get out there and it was an exciting game," he said.
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