Resilient Real just needed a spark
Real Salt Lake looked dead in the water with only 20 minutes remaining against the MetroStars in their Independence Day tilt at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The casual observer wouldn't have given RSL much of chance to salvage a point on their home field, down a man trying to fight back from a two-goal deficit. But RSL never gave up, rallying for a 2-2 draw.
"There was no doubt in our mind tonight that we [were] going to win the game," said 'keeper D.J. Countess, "No doubt."
That self assurance came to fruition when Seth Trembly replaced defender Brian Kamler to give RSL a more attack-oriented look. In the 78th minute, Trembly found the ball at his feet just off the top corner of the 18-yard box. He took a step just inside the box and fired rocket into the side netting, just out of the reach of MetroStars 'keeper Zach Wells, for his second goal of the year.
"I had no idea where the 'keeper was," said Trembly of his goal. "I just saw the far post and knew if I could get side netting he couldn't get to it. I just hit it right."
With the score 2-1, the home crowd got behind RSL and the momentum made a definite shift in favor of the home team. An offensive flurry ensued that seemed to rejuvenate RSL.
"Seth added that last little bit that we needed tonight," said Real Salt Lake head coach John Ellinger of his well-timed substitution.
Team captain Jason Kries agreed, "Seth gave us a spark, he has a lot of hustle and you know you are going to get that every time he steps on the field."
That little bit of spark came in handy for Kreis himself when he found himself on the end of a ball Clint Mathis played over the top into the box in the 89th minute. Kries didn't get a clean shot off, but he was able to draw a penalty. Kreis shrugged off the pressure by easily beating a diving Wells to even the score in stoppage time.
"The nerves are still there," Kreis said about taking penalty kicks. "I've been in the league 10 years and 90-something goals, but I still get nervous ... When I'm not nervous anymore, I'll know it will be time to quit."
On this night, there was no quit in RSL. Even after the final whistle RSL felt they could have taken three points.
"We could have walked away with a win tonight," Kreis said. "We had the chances, we just didn't convert."
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.