Carson, Calif. • There was a moment in the 88th minute of Saturday’s match at L.A. when it looked as if all hope of 10-man Real Salt Lake tying the game was about to melt away. Then RSL center back David Horst came sliding in to save the day and clear away a sure goal.
“Everything we worked on all week leading up to the Galaxy game gets thrown out the window at that point, 15 minutes into the game,” coach Mike Petke said of going down a man with an early red card issued to center back Marcelo Silva. “It’s a shame. We had to go plan B, sometimes plan C, which is ugly.”
RSL’s 1-1 draw at the StubHub Center Saturday was not an elegant display of soccer. It was a lot of moments like Horst’s last minute clearance, where things broke down and RSL, through sheer willpower, made it work.
Throughout the match Galaxy shots clanged off the goal frame and breakaways went awry. L.A. yet again counter-attacked in the 88th minute after a soft turnover by RSL.
Galaxy Midfielder Romain Alessandrini settled a long ball up against Real Salt Lake’s back line and found Giovani dos Santos making a run between RSL center backs Justen Glad and Horst.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando pulled off his line to pressure dos Santos, and the attacker took a quick touch up the left side, around Rimando. The goalkeeper dove in a last-ditch effort to keep RSL’s deficit at just a single goal, but dos Santos’ shot traveled past him, in line with the net.
Then in from behind came Horst. His sliding clearance just in front of the near post gave RSL the opportunity to still tie the game.
“Dave has been massive for us,” right back Tony Beltran said of the center back who replaced Silva after his ejection. “I think he’s come into some very difficult situations, coming off the bench early in a couple games and hasn’t missed a beat. And especially as a defender, a center back, a position like that coming in, it’s very difficult to get up to speed right away. But he’s got such a strong mentality, he’s such a physical presence that I thought he was fantastic for us tonight.”
A man down, RSL was forced to do something Petke doesn’t like to do — sit in and absorb pressure. Real Salt Lake’s offense is the most potent when it can build through possession, but Saturday it had to adjust.
“When you are down a man, you have to,” Petke said. “You have to get into a good formation and deny as much as possible, and hit them on a break. I feel that we did that as good as we could have asked for because we work on that sometimes. In practice, we go through one goal up scenarios, one goal down scenarios. Not a ton, but we work on it. At least they are paying attention.”
In the end it was a set piece that created the opportunity for Kyle Beckerman to score the stoppage-time equalizer. Horst supplied the assist.
That wasn’t plan A, but it worked.
Rimando called in to USMNT
Following another strong performance Saturday for RSL, Rimando will yet again join the United States national team for 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.
The USMNT announced the roster Sunday for its October qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. Rimando was one of three goalkeepers named to the squad, joining Atlanta’s Brad Guzan and Colorado’s Tim Howard.
“Nick is playing at a very high level,” Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel said in a team release. “He has been great in the role that he plays for our national team. He has been good when called upon, and he’s a very good teammate in the U.S. system.”
After keeping a clean sheet last week against the Sounders, RSL’s veteran goalkeeper made six saves and conceded just one goal Saturday.
“For Nick Rimando to keep us in this game, down a man, for the amount of shots he faced and the difficult saves he had to make, it was a joy to watch,” Petke said after the match.