SANDY, Utah — Several days after they beat the only winless team in the league, Real Salt Lake players are still a little bit giddy.
It's not so much that the last unbeaten team (4-0-5) in MLS won a road game in Chicago, it's how they won: a comeback from a two-goal deficit by a team that had trailed for only a total of five minutes in eight previous matches.
“After the game, you almost felt a little bit like a kid again in youth soccer,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy told reporters, “the way that the game ended, scoring all the goals late to come back and win the game. … I think some of us commented in the locker room [after the game] that that's maybe the most fun we've had in a while,” Grabavoy said.
After going behind early on Chicago goals in the 22nd and 30th minutes, Salt Lake mounted an impressive rally on goals by Joao Plata in the 72nd minute, Álvaro Saborío in the 90th minute and Plata again in the 93rd minute.
“Nobody panicked,” team captain Kyle Beckerman told reporters, a big smile on his face. “We looked at each other and said, 'This team's ready to go down. Let's just get a goal here.'”
There was, perhaps, an extra spring in the step of the players on Wednesday when they returned to the practice field for the first time since the comeback – a sign of renewed confidence in each other, and in their first-year head coach, Jeff Cassar. His offensive-minded substitutions in the second half helped provide the spark RSL needed to finally finish the great chances they created throughout the game.
“Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't,” Cassar told reporters. “But really, all the credit needs to go to the players. Because no matter what I do, they're the ones out there doing it and getting themselves into position to score.”
If there was any bad news at midweek as RSL prepare for a game in Houston on Sunday, it's that defender Chris Schuler injured his knee in Chicago. But even that news does not seem particularly bad.
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“Schuler picked up a little bit of a knock in the game,” Cassar said. “I think the adrenaline carried him through the game, and he's having a little bit of soreness.”
Schuler was scheduled to have an MRI, which Cassar called “precautionary,” and the big defender was seen walking seemingly normally later in the day.
Meanwhile, outside back Rich Balchan, who has been recovering from an adductor strain, has been sent on loan to the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL in an effort to get him “90 minutes fit,” Cassar said.
Balchan is scheduled to play for the RailHawks on Saturday against the San Antonio Scorpions but is expected to be back with RSL next week and available for the Claret-and-Cobalt's May 17 home game against Colorado.