Real Salt Lake shuffled its lineup for a midweek friendly against South American powerhouse Universidad Catolica before a raucous crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Wednesday night, with RSL Head Coach John Ellinger re-introducing a 4-4-2 formation, giving recent acquisition Dante Washington his first start in a Real uniform and putting 10-year veterans Jason Kreis (attacking midfield) and Brian Kamler (left back) in new positions.
Three goals in the final 17 minutes by an inspired reserve contingent for Real Salt Lake enabled the home side to capture its first-ever international friendly, 3-2, in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion. Rookie FW Jamie Watson entered the game in the 70th minute and assisted on two of the three goals, including the game-winner by DF Nelson Akwari, and was pulled down for an equalizing penalty kick. MF Kenny Cutler and FW Dipsy Selolwane also scored for RSL, which will seek to end a 321-minute MLS scoring drought Saturday night at The Home Depot Center against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
On a soggy field during a steady drizzle, former Columbus Crew and Dallas Burn striker Dante Washington nearly put RSL ahead in the 12th minute, just missing off the near post after redirecting a corner kick from MF Andy Williams. Moments later, he found himself with a clear look at the goal from 40 yards out, firing a rocket that had Catolica GK Paulo Garces backpedaling, sending it just wide again.
RSL defender Brian Dunseth went down with a mild left ankle sprain in the 21st minute and was replaced by former New Zealand U-17 standout Cameron Knowles in central defense, next to DF Matt Behncke. Just over a minute later, Catolica MF Alvaro Lara found himself open at the top corner of RSL's box and buried the ball in the back of the net to notch the game's first goal. For the 7th time in all competitions this season, RSL fell behind in the first 25 minutes, victims to yet another early goal.
Real Salt Lake's regular-season assist leader, Clint Mathis, nearly equalized for the home side in the 29th minute, sending a curling free kick just past the left post from 25 yards out. Mathis, still in search of his first MLS goal since returning from Germany, fired a beautiful bender that sailed just inches wide of the top left corner.
Catolica, the Chilean First Division regular-season champions, capitalized on RSL misfortune in the 33rd minute. MF Francisco Pantoja held the ball at the top of the box and played a ball through to dangerous striker Cesar Cortes. Cortes one-timed the ball and buried it past a helpless DJ Countess to put Catolica up 2-0.
In the second half, Head Coach John Ellinger made wholesale substitutions, putting five reserves - GK Jay Nolly, MF Leighton O'Brien, MF Seth Trembly, MF Kenny Cutler and FW Dipsy Selolwane - into the game in place of Countess, Mathis, Williams, Kreis and Nik Besagno, five players who started in the Real Salt Lake's last MLS game. Newfound energy, passion and enthusiasm was immediately evident as the team pressured Rice-Eccles' south goal for the entire second half, the only end RSL has scored on this season.
Early in the second stanza, it appeared that scoring was not meant to be. Selolwane, back in Salt Lake for less than 24 hours following the weekend's Botswana loss to Tunisia in an African World Cup Qualifier, fired a rocket in the 48th minute from the edge of the 18-yard box. Catolica GK Garces parried the shot away, but RSL's Washington was there to nearly find the back of the net. However, Garces again kept a spinning ball from completely crossing the goal line, and Washington was left wanting.
In the 61st minute, Washington was taken down in the box by Garces, with a spot kick in the offing for RSL. MF Leighton O'Brien, the 2003 A-League MVP for the Seattle Sounders, took the penalty for RSL, but knocked it wide off the right post, leaving RSL players, coaches and fans shaking their heads.
In the 70th minute, RSL rookie Watson entered the game in exchange for Washington and inspired the game in a matter of moments. In the 74th minute, the former U-17 and North Carolina star dropped the ball to a waiting Kenny Cutler, with the onrushing holding midfielder putting the ball away to pull RSL within a goal.
In the 76th minute, Watson cruised down the field with the ball and got behind his defender halfway down the 18 yard box. Unable to recover, Catolica DF Mauricio Isla fouled Watson to set up yet another penalty kick. After a brief protest by Catolica, Selowane stepped to the spot for RSL and buried the penalty kick to even the score at 2-2.
After several chances during the final 15 minutes by both teams, Watson changed the game, streaking down the left side and playing a lofted ball across the box. RSL DF Nelson Akwari got his head on the ball, knocking it down and into the net for the 88th minute game-winning goal.
"It was the most frustrated I have been all year with our performance in the first half," said Ellinger. "When you put players on the field in the second half who want to win, it obviously makes a big difference."
Real Salt Lake vs. Universidad Catolica
June 08, 2005 -- Rice-Eccles Stadium
UC - Alvaro Lara (unassisted) 23
UC - Cesar Cortes (Francisco Pantoja) 33
RSL - Kenny Cutler (Jamie Watson) 73
RSL - Dipsy Selolwane (penalty kick) 77
RSL - Nelson Akwari (Jamie Watson) 88
REAL SALT LAKE (4-4-2) - Countess (Nolly 46); Akwari, Dunseth (Knowles 22), Behncke, Kamler; Besagno (Cutler 46), Brown, Williams (Trembly 46), Kreis (O'Brien 46); Mathis (Selolwane 46), Washington (Watson 71)
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Washington 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Washington, Selolwane 2); FOULS: 10 (Besagno 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4 (Countess 3)
Substitutes Not Used: Sergio Flores, Luke Kreamalmeyer, Kevin Novak
CD UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA (4-4-2) - Garces; Gonzalez, Acevedo, Isla, Carvajal; Pantoja, Nunez (Jara 80), Lara, Aguilera; Rozental (Gutierrez 78), Cortes (Brizuela 81)
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Lara 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Lara 3); FOULS: 13 (Gonzalez 3); OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 5 (Garces 5)
Substitutes Not Used: Andres Parada, Sebastian Barrientos, Douglas Diaz
RSL - Nikolas Besagno (caution; Reckless Foul) 6
RSL - Cameron Knowles (caution; Dissent) 25
UC - Patricio Aguilera (caution; tackle from behind) 28
UC - Francisco Pantoja (caution; reckless foul) 53
UC - Juan Carvajal (caution; tackle from behind) 61
UC - Paulo Garces (caution; dissent) 61
RSL - Leighton O'Brien (caution; tackle from behind) 71
UC - Alvaro Lara (caution; reckless foul) 88
UC - Pablo Gonzalez (ejection; tackle from behind) 90
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Feliciano Palomino; Gunther Haidenthaller
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:48