Wild night ends with opportunistic draw for Real Salt Lake

Red card, early deficit not enough to stymie hardy RSL side

07-04-11_Johnson_shrug (620x350)

Photo Credit: 
George Frey / Getty Images

SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis warned his squad
during the week of overconfidence leading up to Sunday’s against the New
England Revolution. 

After all, RSL had dominated this series at Rio Tinto in the recent
past, combining to outscore the Revs 11-0 the last two times met on
RSL’s home turf.

But as explosive as those matches were, nothing could have prepared RSL
for the rematch Sunday, which featured a red card for each team, late
drama and a combined six goals scored.


“Fourth of July fireworks — that’s what you wanted, right?” RSL
midfielder Andy Williams said after the 3-3 draw. “I’m sure that the
fans are pretty happy, ESPN is pretty happy, but it’s kind of difficult
[for us.]”

The drama started early, when defender Nat Borchers was whistled for a
breakaway challenge on the Revs’ Benny Feilhaber that drew both a
penalty kick and a red card.

The call was a controversial one, exasperated by the fact that the
central referee made the call from midfield instead of relying on his
assistant referee who appeared in better position to make the decision. 

“At that moment, on the field, I saw him kicking the leg of Benny and
subsequently get the ball,” referee Yader Reyes told the pool reporter
after the match, reiterating that in his mind it was worthy of an
ejection.  “I have not seen a replay.  But like I said, what I saw live,
on the field, yes.”

New England’s Rajko Lekic converted the penalty kick and the Revs
eventually built a 2-0 lead by the 16th minute, but a crucial tap-in
from Will Johnson in the 24th minute and a penalty kick from Álvaro
Saborío in the 56th minute pulled RSL even.

A goal from Sharlie Joseph put New England up again, but Fabián
Espíndola’s finish in the 83rd minute sealed the unlikely comeback for

“My take-away from the match is that I’m really, really proud of our
guys,” Kreis said. “To get to 2-2 and then have another disappointing
decision and a free kick goal scored off of that, and then fight back
again to get to 3-3 is a huge credit to our group.”

For the most part, Real Salt Lake felt that they played well given the circumstances. 

“They didn’t do anything to cause us to worry,” Williams said. “We kept
creating chances and getting shots. Even down 2-0 I thought we
outplayed New England. Their chances all came from set pieces tonight.” 

And that is where the concern comes in. Referees judgment aside, the
team has to ask how Feilhaber managed to slip behind the defense in the
opening minutes in order to setup the red card decision, and they also
have to question why they let the free kick by Chris Tierney on the
second goal go underneath the wall in front of Nick Rimando. 

“I have to assume that it went under the wall,” Kreis said. “Obviously
that’s not good enough. The wall — never do we want them jumping. We
want them staying still and if someone hits the ball over them and into
the top corner, we can credit them. But if somebody hits the ball into
the lower corner because we jumped, now we’ve got some questions to