Costly slip-up in Vancouver has Real Salt Lake wondering: Was there "extra water" in RSL box?
Real Salt Lake seemed on their way to three road points against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon thanks to rookie Olmes García's first career MLS goal.
Then misfortune struck.
RSL right back Tony Beltran stopped an attempted cross from Vancouver rookie Kekuta Manneh in the 84th minute. The ball fell in the direction of RSL defender Nat Borchers, whose feet went out from under him and his hand, reaching out to brace his fall, struck the ball. Referee Drew Fischer immediately pointed to the spot, and Whitecaps attacker Camilo converted the penalty kick past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to pull things even.
"It seemed especially in the second half we were losing our footing back there," said Borchers on an interview with ESPN700 Radio following the game. "I'm not sure if they put some extra water back in our penalty box to do that or what. I slipped when the ball was kind of getting knocked around back there and it just hit my hand, my arm actually. Unfortunately, the referee called a PK."
Whether or not the infraction should have been called, considering it did not actually affect the run of play or stop any type of danger -- Manneh was still 10 yards away from the ball -- is up for debate.
"Move on, next [question]," was all RSL manager Jason Kreis had to say to reporters after the game about the penalty kick.
Offered Rimando: "The handball, I don't know. It's questionable. I think sometimes the ref will call it, sometimes he won't. But it's not intentional, so you can go back and forth with that."
What cannot be debated, was the trouble RSL players had with the BC Place turf. The evidence was plentiful in the game film as players constantly lost their footing and either fell to the ground or were thrown off balance. But even with that, RSL will take away their one point on the road and not place blame.
"The field was a little different," said midfielder Luis Gil in a radio interview. "It was our first turf game of the season. A lot of guys weren't there with their footwork, but I mean, both teams played on the same turf. Both of us had to play on the same field and that was all that matters. It was whoever puts away their chances. It was just unlucky."
Michael Black covers Real Salt Lake for MLSsoccer.com