Even with three of their best players sidelined through injuries or disciplinary action, Real Salt Lake looked like they would find a way to continue their home field dominance -- until a series of late goals snatched away three points and left RSL with one.
RSL played to a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium after the two teams combined for three goals in stoppage time.
The Galaxy rallied from a late deficit to force the draw with Mike Magee's equalizer four minutes deep into stoppage time that came on the heels of successful penalty kicks from Landon Donovan and Will Johnson.
It was the third time in MLS history three goals were scored in added time, and the second time two penalties came after the 90th minute ticked over, the last occurring in 2000.
Robbie Findley scored his fifth goal of the season to give RSL a first-half lead, while Clint Mathis notched his fourth assist. Both players are tied for the MLS lead in their respective categories.
Los Angeles went on the attack just a few seconds into the match when Donovan tried to slot the ball inside the left post. Donovan's shot angled wide of the left post to prevent the Galaxy from getting on the board before the match was a minute old.
That start proved deceptive to how the game actually unfolded early on. The pace slowed to a crawl as neither team could do much to create offense. It took RSL until the 27th minute to create their first shot of the match.
Real's first opportunity developed off a corner kick from Mathis. The veteran midfielder swung the ball out to Robbie Russell, who was positioned in the middle of the area. Russell used a wicked header to send the ball spinning on a line drive trajectory at Galaxy 'keeper Donovan Ricketts.
What looked to be a certain goal for RSL ended up being headed away at the last minute by Stefani Miglioranzi. It set up a second corner kick, but Mathis was unable to create anything from it.
Los Angeles nearly got on the board first in the 29th minute. Sean Franklin had acres of open space as he drove down the right flank. With Russell closing in on him at lightning speed, Franklin released a nice dagger. RSL 'keeper Chris Seitz stretched out and covered up the ball just as it made it past the post for the huge save.
RSL used another corner kick to finally inject some life into its offense in the 34th minute. The Utah side went up 1-0 when Mathis sent a corner to the near post and Findley slid forward and flicked the ball into the net with a header before the defender on him could get a piece of it.
The Galaxy had a couple good chances to even the score before halftime. Chris Klein took a hard right-footed shot in the 43rd minute that was deflected by Nat Borchers and nearly redirected past Seitz into the near corner on the deflection. It set up a corner kick, which fell to Edson Buddle about 10 yards out. Buddle's shot had enough power but sailed a few inches too high.
RSL nearly took a two-goal lead in the 47th minute when Chris Wingert tracked a ball down near the corner and promptly curled it to Findley at the top of the goal area. Findley slid forward and tried to flick the ball ahead into the net, but his shot just barely tracked wide of the left post.
It was Yura Movsisyan's turn to try and make something happen in the 52nd minute. Movsisyan drove into the penalty area from the right flank and worked around a defender and reached the right post. A potential shot never made it past the planning stages, though, when Ricketts blocked him on the drive right at the post.
Wingert had a good look of his own in the 56th minute. The left back threaded the ball past three defenders after uncorking a shot just outside the area. But Ricketts scooped up the ball before it could cross the line.
Defensively, RSL did a good job of exerting pressure on the Galaxy offense early in the second half and preventing it from creating chances for the equalizer. Indeed, Los Angeles did not get its first shot after coming out of the locker room until the 75th minute.
Donovan directed a free kick over the two-man defensive wall, but Wingert cleared it away with a header. His clearance went straight to Miglioranzi, who unleashed a rocket right at Seitz. But his aim proved to be way off and the ball sailed high over the crossbar.
RSL shifted into a 4-5-1 defensive formation during the final 15 minutes of the half to try and monopolize possession. The Galaxy struggled to break through the alignment and get scoring position until Donovan's penalty kick in stoppage time allowed them to get the equalizer. A handball call on Johnson in the area led to the penalty kick.
Johnson got a chance to get it back when Fabian Espindola was taken down in the box by Galaxy substitute Bryan Jordan a minute later. Johnson buried a penalty kick into the corner to lift RSL to a 2-1 advantage.
The lead did not last long. Magee took the air out of the crowd when he latched onto a deflected shot on the left side of the goal area and slid it between Seitz's legs and just inside the far post to make it 2-2 a minute before the added time ran out.
RSL nearly snatched one more dramatic goal, but Russell's header went just wide of the right-hand post.
John Coon is a contributor to MLSnet.com.