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RSL snaps sellout streak in its 1-1 tie with San Jose

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SANDY — Real Salt Lake rallied for a 1-1 draw against visiting San Jose on Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. But the focus of the game was barely on the players in a match that RSL hoped to win after back-to-back losses the following two weeks.

RSL is winless in its past four contests, with its last win coming on the road against the Earthquakes (3-4-1, 10 points) on April 5. Chris Wondowski’s goal just 19 minutes in gave the visiting side a 1-0 lead at halftime, but RSL (2-2-4, 10 points) rallied to tie the game at 1-1 through Victor Bernardez’s spectacular own goal in the 71st minute.

RSL looked for offense late, eventually putting as many as four strikers on the field as it played something similar to a 4-1-3-2 after teenage forward Sebastian Saucedo replaced midfielder Luke Mulholland with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation. But the final touch never came, and RSL was forced to settle for the draw.

Here are three thoughts on RSL’s one point gained at home against San Jose, leaving the Salt Lake side just two points ahead of Colorado for last place in the Western Conference before the L.A. Galaxy come to town on Wednesday.

Two attack-minded teams played a foul-heavy match -------------------------------------------------

RSL’s first Friday night match of the season resulted in 37 combined fouls, including 20 in the first half alone. Head official Sorin Stoica also handed out three yellow cards that began when Kyle Beckerman was booked barely 60 seconds into the contest.

"It was so boring, I felt bad for the fans, with so many whistles," RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "We couldn't get our rhythm down. I don't really know what to think: there was no rhythm of play, and it wasn't what soccer is supposed to be."

With 10 total minutes of stoppage time, Stoica called a foul on average every 2.7 minutes of play.

"It was a boring draw," Rimando quipped. "I don't know if I'm happy to get a draw here, because we want three points. But a draw like that, I just don't know. There are no feelings about getting a point after that game. You want to give the fans so much more than that. But the soccer wasn't great with lots of whistles.

"I"m excited to get to my daughter's game tomorrow and see a team get to play soccer a little bit."

More bad luck for Morales

After missing three straight games with a groin injury, the RSL maestro’s return to the starting lineup lasted only 41 minutes. Morales exited the match before the halftime whistle after being pulled down at the edge of San Jose’s box just 27 minutes into the match. No foul was officially made on the play, though Stoica overturned what was originally a free kick-opportunity to RSL.

Jordan Allen replaced the Argentine with four minutes left in regulation after the RSL athletic training staff spent nearly seven minutes assessing the threat of a potential head injury on the sideline following the initial blow. Morales was taken to a local hospital during the game for scans, and RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said doctors are examining him for concussion-like symptoms.

"I haven't spoke to the trainers and doctor about it, but it was clear after he went back out on the field that something wasn't right," Cassar added. "He was a little bit disengaged in the game, and we decided to make a move for his safety."

The streak is over

Real Salt Lake carried a 19-match sellout streak into Friday night, but saw it stopped with 19,715 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. Not a minimalist crowd by any measure, but multiple layers of seats remained vacant, especially in the upper deck throughout the night.

The match was RSL’s first announced non-sellout crowd since April 2014 against Vancouver, and it didn't give the fans in attendance much to write home about, Beckerman said after the match.

"I just feel bad for the fans," the RSL team captain said. "We had a great night, and all we want to do is play. We want to play a game and have us decide a game. The game just wasn't any fun; it was so stop-start the whole game. There was no rhythm."

Bernardez's own-goal also snapped RSL's 387-minute scoreless streak, the second longest in team history. The howitzer was Salt Lake's first goal at Rio Tinto Stadium since a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on March 29.

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Sean Walker

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