Real Salt Lake: RSL, Red Bulls draw 1-1 at Rio Tinto
Sandy • One of the best the game has ever seen did precisely what is expected of him when a ball rolled harmlessly at his feet atop the 18-yard box. When Tim Cahill received a cross to notice a defender on his back, he saw Thierry Henry.
The superstar, in his 21st year as a professional, settled over the ball and did what he's done tens of hundreds upon hundreds of times to clubs and defenses all over the world for the last three decades.
He unleashed a ball into the back of the net. Through traffic, Henry's right-footed shot zipped toward the corner of the goal as goalkeeper Nick Rimando could only watch as the 57th-minute attempt equalized for the visiting New York Red Bulls. It was the only shot-on-goal by New York, and it was all it needed to escape Sandy and Real Salt Lake with a point in the 1-1 draw.
"He's an extremely intelligent player," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. "Sometimes it looks like he's not interested, and then boom. He can strike at any moment."
The aging 36-year-old forward rumored to be in his final year in his scintillating professional career did.
It negated the jolt of energy provided to the 20,295 fans inside Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night when Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata gave his team, yet again, another quick lead in the 18th minute. The club's leading scorer received a ball from defender Chris Wingert inside the box, turned his head and took aim at the far post.
Plata hit his target as he so often has in 2014, cementing his ninth goal of the season.
But it was Henry's equalizer in the second half that kept RSL (8-4-9) from building upon last Thursday's 3-1 win over Montreal. Despite owning another early lead, RSL has yet to win back-to-back matches since May 11 and 17, when it topped Houston on the road and Colorado at home six days later. The club's shutout streak reached nine consecutive matches in which RSL has conceded at least one goal. In the last six outings, the club has conceded one goal.
"To me, talking about scoring goals, talking about getting shutouts, talking about that stuff isn't what produces the results," Wingert said.
Despite conceding the lead, RSL had a great chance to take the lead when Chris Schuler's point-blank header was cleared off the line by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 71st minute. Plata sent in a corner kick that found the head of an unmarked Schuler, but the RSL center back's ensuing header couldn't sneak in.
In the 86th minute, Plata's left-footed cross was pushed wide by Robles, but an onrushing Luis Gil couldn't get there in time to put a shot on frame. In a last-gasp attempt to snag three points, Robbie Findley's header was snagged by Robles.
Now, it's onto Colorado Saturday for Round 2 of this year's Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry. The club currently still sits in second place in the Western Conference with 33 points with the L.A. Galaxy, Rapids and FC Dallas hot on its tail at 30 points a piece.
Sooner or later, three points will need to end up part of the equation at home more often. Players and coaches acknowledged that after another draw at Rio Tinto.
"We've just got to keep pushing through it," defender Nat Borchers said. "This is the summer. It's hot, guys' legs are a little bit tired, little heavy and I think that we're doing the right things and that just means we're going to keep creating chances and get those goals.
O RSL forward Joao Plata scores his club-leading ninth goal of the season in the 18th minute for a 1-0 lead.
• Thierry Henry equalizes in the 57th minute on the only official shot on goal by the Red Bulls, earning his club a road point.
RSL 1, Red Bulls 1
New York 0 1 1
RSL 1 0 1
First half Â» 1, Real Salt Lake, Plata 9 (Wingert), 18th minute.
Second half Â» 2, New York, Henry 5 (Cahill, Wright-Phillips), 57th.
Goalies Â» New York, Luis Robles Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando.
Yellow CardsGarcia, Real Salt Lake, 78th.
RefereeMark Geiger. Assistant RefereesC.J. Morgante. Felisha Mariscal. 4th OfficialTyler Ploeger.
Attendance Â» 20,295 (20,008)
New YorkLuis Robles, Ibrahim Sekagya, Ambroise Oyongo, Chris Duvall, Jamison Olave, Roy Miller, Eric Alexander (Ruben Bover, 80th), Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry (Peguy Luyindula, 90th).
Real Salt LakeNick Rimando, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Luke Mulholland (Luis Gil, 67th), Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Olmes Garcia (Robbie Findley, 82nd), Joao Plata.