SANDY, Utah – Down 10 men for nearly half an hour, Javier Morales’ penalty kick deep into second-half stoppage time rescued an improbable point for Real Salt Lake in a wild 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union in front of 20,445 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.
Lovel Palmer’s controversial sending-off in the 59th minute had put the league leaders’ six-game unbeaten streak in jeopardy. But a late goal from Luis Gil and a clutch save from Josh Saunders kept the Claret-and-Cobalt in the game before the dramatic ending.
Philadelphia went out to an early lead thanks to Sébastien Le Toux’s easy tap-in of a Conor Casey centering pass in the 16th minute. The Union’s lead looked even more insurmountable when Palmer’s slide tackle on Michael Farfan earned him a straight red from head official Ismail Elfath.
But RSL continued to press, and evened things up in the 75th minute through second-half substitute Gil. The midfielder, days off his stint in Turkey with the US Under-20 national team, found himself unmarked at the top of the box and headed in Morales’ corner kick.
But before the crowd had even stopped celebrating, the Union went back on top. Less than a minute later, second-half sub Antoine Hoppenot skipped past RSL defender Nat Borchers, who slipped to the turf, drew out Saunders and fed the ball to Casey at the top of the box. The burly forward buried the ball into the open net.
A ball was sent down the right side toward Antoine Hoppenot with RSL's Nat Borchers defending. Borchers went down off his feet and saw Hoppenot alone in the box. Saunders came charging out, but Hoppenot found Casey all alone at the top of the area where the forward easily hit it into the open net.
With RSL pressing everything it had into the attack in the dying minutes, Le Toux exposed the hosts’ backline and found himself one on one with Saunders in the third minute of stoppage time. But the Frenchman took a bad touch as he approached the box and Saunders cut down the angle to make the save.
In the seventh minute of stoppage, Raymon Gaddis handled the ball in the box during a scramble, and Elfath pointed at the spot. Morales stepped up to take the penalty and drilled it off the right post and into the left-side netting to rescue to point.
Real Salt Lake were without starters Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Álvaro Saborío and Tony Beltran, all of whom were on Gold Cup duty, while Philadelphia were missing Jack McInerney.
With the draw, top-of-the-table RSL are now 10-5-4 with 34 points and see their unbeaten run reach seven games. They next travel to FC Dallas on July 13.
Philadelphia are now 7-5-6 and missed a chance to pull ahead of the second-place New York Red Bulls, who are in action Wednesday night. The Union have a quick turnaround and travel to Houston on Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Conor Casey (PHI)||Undermanned RSL didn't know what do with the big, bruising target man, who nearly won this game on his own.|
|2||Josh Saunders (RSL)||Five saves on the night, but none was more clutch than stuffing Le Toux deep into stoppage to put RSL in a position to save a point.|
|3||Joao Plata (RSL)||Pint-sized attacker kept Union defenders on their toes; was unlucky not have at least two assists.|