SANDY, Utah — For the second week in a row, Real Salt Lake blew a lead and had to settle for a tie.
Two games into the 2014 season, the LA Galaxy are still looking for a win.
The Western Conference powerhouses swapped well-taken first-half goals, but couldn't produce much more, leaving them deadlocked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday.
As might be expected after a tie between these rivals, neither team came away happy after facing each other for the second time in three weeks, and less than five months after Salt Lake edged LA in a tense playoff series – a victory the home fans commemorated with a pregame tifo recalling the date of RSL's last-gasp, second-leg victory.
RSL forward Joao Plata continued his incredibly hot start to the season as he took advantage of an Omar Gonzalez miscue just 90 seconds in, and appeared headed for his third goal in as many games, but the Ecuadorian curled his finish wide right.
Plata made up for that in the 19th minute, however, delivering a beautiful assist to Alvaro Saborio inside the six-yard box after an RSL free kick. The Galaxy defense left Saborio so wide open that he had ample time to set himself before stroking the ball past LA goalkeeper Brian Perk – standing in for usual starter Jaime Penedo – to give Salt Lake a 1-0 lead.
It was Saborio's first goal of the season, and it gave Plata two assists and two goals in the Claret-and-Cobalt's first three games.
However, in the 28th minute Plata pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. He tried to walk it off and return to the game, but was clearly laboring on the field and was subbed out for Olmes Garcia in the 36th minute.
But in the meantime, the visitors took advantage of his limited mobility to press forward and sneak an equalizer on the counterattack after RSL left back Chris Wingert committed an ill-timed turnover.
Galaxy star Robbie Keane didn't have as many chances on Saturday as he has in recent matchups against RSL, but he made this one count. After Wingert lost the ball at midfield, Keane raced down the right side, juked past backpedaling defender Chris Schuler and fired a low strike inside the near post to draw LA level in the 35th minute.
The Galaxy were also forced to sub out an injured player when defender James Riley went down with a knee injury and had to be replaced by Dan Gargan in the 33rd minute.
The game lost much of its rhythm in the second half as the two sides tussled to a midfield stalemate and clear looks at goal were few and far between. LA have reason to head home satisfied with a point after a draining week dominated by Tuesday night's disappointing CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second-leg loss to Mexico's Club Tijuana.
RSL host new-look Toronto FC next Saturday (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE, TSN2 in Canada), while the Galaxy are off until April 6, when they clash with hallway rivals Chivas USA at StubHub Center (3 pm ET, UniMas).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Robbie Keane||A DP doing DP things: His goal showed textbook counterattacking play punctuated by a nasty shimmy past Chris Schuler.|
|2||Alvaro Saborio||Similar to Keane, Sabo didn't get many looks but was clinical with the one he did. But how'd he get so open?|
It says much about this game that he's on this list despite playing barely half an hour. Quick, sharp, dangerous on the ball.