Frisco, Texas • The cross made it past a sliding Justen Glad before Marcelo Silva hit it past goalkeeper Nick Rimando and into his own goal. The ball hit the back of the net so hard that it bounced right back to Silva, who kicked it a second time, this one out of frustration.
It was one play, but it was enough to make a potential three points into one in reality as Real Salt Lake walked away from its season opener against FC Dallas with a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium Saturday.
“For a first game, with a long way to go, it’s a good start,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “… They grinded and they got a result. It’s not the result we wanted, but we got a result on the road.”
The play that led to FC Dallas’ goal started up the right side, with Danilo Acosta battling for possession. The ball bounced off him, and Acosta was beaten to it by Jacori Hayes, who played the ball to Maximiliano Urruti’s feet.
Urruti took on Glad one-on one and played the ball across the face of the goal as Glad’s slide tackle barely missed. Silva deflected the shot into the goal in the 86th minute.
The timing of the equalizer so late in the game hit RSL hard. Two minutes earlier, winger Jefferson Savarino was carried off due to injury, and Petke opted to sub on center back David Horst to help protect the lead. Then when the equalizer hit, RSL was down an attacking player that could have helped try to get a late game-winner.
“[We] actually made it a little bit earlier than we probably would have in mid-season, around the 80th minute, because there were a lot of tired legs out there,” Petke said.
RSL’s first goal, scored by Joao Plata in the 25th minute, showed off the best parts of RSL’s attack. Striker Luis Silva pulled up into midfield to help start possession on a throw in, and he laid a pass off to Damir Kreilach. The Croatian midfielder found Albert Rusnák in the middle, and RSL pushed up behind him, shifting the play into Dallas’ half
With his second touch, Rusnák led Plata behind FC Dallas’ back line. Dallas right back Reggie Cannon chased Plata down, but Plata cut back and let the defender run past him. Plata cocked his right leg and then drove a near-post shot on the ground into the goal.
Rimando, who signed a new multi-year-contract with RSL over the offseason, proved the club’s trust in his ageless play to be well-founded. Of his five saves, one in the 39th minute was the most astounding.
Urruti took a close-range shot from the left side, and Rimando dove to his right, across the line, blocking the shot while sliding into the net. He popped back up in time to watch Mauro Diaz drive a right-footed shot off the crossbar.
“The performance was good for most of the game,” Rusnák said. “I know they had their chances, but we defended I think very well most of the game, and after the first half when they had the biggest chances and they didn’t score I was thinking, ‘It’s going to be our day.’”
Along with Savarino, Demar Phillips left the game with an injury. Petke did not have an update on the severity of their injuries after the match.