RSL Roundup: Miracle in the Rockies
Real Salt Lake didn’t play their best during their season finale, but at the end of the day, they got a result with a miraculous brace in stoppage time against the Colorado Rapids.
While the 2-2 draw put them in position to take advantage of a slip-up by the LA Galaxy on Sunday to win the Supporters’ Shield, RSL didn’t get the help they needed from FC Dallas, who gave up two goals en route to a 2-1 loss. As a result, the defending champs finished three points behind first-place LA in the final standings.
WATCH: Highlights: COL 2, RSL 2
Head coach Jason Kreis mentioned that he was happy with the result, “as long as our guys take the responsibility and accountability for the fact that we knew that [the performance] was not good enough.”
The result means that Real Salt Lake will face off against FC Dallas on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park. FCD suffered their first loss since May 20 to RSL, and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to avenge the result.
On their part, RSL will be looking to at least hold ground on the road in anticipation of coming back to Rio Tinto Stadium for the second leg.
Man of the Match
The man of the match was clearly Alvaro Saborio, who almost single-handled brought his team back from the brink of defeat.
Saborío’s 18 goals in 32 games across all competitions is probably the best single season performance by an RSL forward since Jeff Cunningham’s 16-goal, Golden Boot-winning season in 2006.
After the match, both Rapids coach Gary Smith and Brian Mullan, who committed the foul that led to the game-tying penalty kick, questioned the call.
“I got elbowed right before the kick,” said Mullan. “It kind of shocked me. I just locked [Jamison Olave] up. He just ran over me [and] fell down.”
Replays showed that Mullan had both arms around Olave and clearly took him down in the area.
Kyle Beckerman described the call: “[Mullan] had locked hands around [Olave] and just kind of suplexed him.”
Rocky Mountain High
By tying, RSL retained the Rocky Mountain Cup for the fourth consecutive year. Both encounters between Colorado and RSL ended in draws thanks to last-minute heroics by Nat Borchers and Saborío, respectively.
According to the rules determined by representatives of both clubs’ supporters groups, if the teams are tied in aggregate goals, the Cup is retained by the current holder.
Beckerman, who played for the Rapids before being traded to RSL, he has been on the winning side for all six years of the Cup’s existence.
Despite surrendering two goals – just the second time since April – Real Salt Lake set the league record for the fewest goals allowed in a season. The 20 goals allowed bested the mark of 23 set by Houston in 2007.
Unfortunately, the second goal by Colorado kept RSL from tying the record for fewest away goals in a season set by D.C. United in 2005 with 13.
The defense was driven by the clean sheet, or as the RSL players like to refer to it, “the zero.”
Nick Rimando had 14 clean sheets on the season, second to the 16 shutouts Tony Meola registered for the Kansas City Wizards in 2000.
Rimando also finished with a 0.67 GAA, which second to Dallas’ Kevin Hartman, who finished with a 0.62 GAA.