RSL comes close to history in 5-4 defeat at Cruz Azul
Real Salt Lake came so very close to
making history in Mexico City, but a late goalscoring furry denied the MLSers
as they fell to Cruz Azul, 5-4, in a wild Champions League match hindered by heavy
rainfall and a waterlogged pitch.
Real Salt Lake had paced a 3-2 lead with just two minutes remaining on the
clock. Had they held on to that tenuous advantage, they would have become the
first MLS team to have won a meaningful game in Mexico.
However, as perpetual rain turned the field to a small lake, a series of
slap-stick routines resulted in an outrageous four-goal scoring flurry that saw
Javier Orozco finish the night with four goals and Christian Gimenez tally a
stoppage-time winner for the host Cementeros.
Cruz Azul jumped out early after youngster Orozco received a pass off of a
quick restart that found him in behind the defense, and he easily sidestepped
Rimando to score the goal.
Real Salt Lake leveled in the 23rd minute after a deflected ball found its way
to Espindola's feet, and as he maneuvered in behind the defense he was fouled
by defender Horacio Cervantes. Alvaro Saborio stepped up to convert the tying
Saborio added his fourth goal of the tournament near the end of the first half
as he picked off a back pass by Cervantes, who had not accounted for the pool
of water between himself and the goalkeeper. The ball failed to travel the full
distance back to his teammate, and Saborio pounced on the opportunity to give
RSL a halftime lead.
The Mexican side came out in attack mode in the second half, intent on getting
an equalizer. However, RSL would capitalize with a counterattack when Saborio
put pressure on a defender and picked his pocket. He then played a wonderful
square ball that caught Fabian Espindola, who put the ball away with his left
Cruz Azul narrowed the advantage in the 75th minute when Orozco scored his
second of the match. He collected the ball off of a free kick with his back to
the goal before turning and taking a shot that deflected off of the leg of an
RSL defender. The deflection caught Rimando diving to his right as the ball
headed toward his left and into the net.
In the 87th minute Orozco scored his third of the match to bring it level, and
then added a fourth in the 89th minute to give Cruz Azul the advantage.
However, Will Johnson appeared to earn RSL the point two minutes into stoppage
time. The celebration would be short-lived, though, as Cruz Azul took the
re-start down into the RSL end and scored with a blast from the top of the area