SANDY, Utah – It took a flash of world-class skill in the 92nd minute to decide Tuesday night's international friendly between Inter Milan and Real Salt Lake, as Inter’s Stevan Jovetic pulled off a phenomenal backheel for the game-winner in a 2-1 stoppage-time win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“Parts of it for sure were enjoyable,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said afterwards.
RSL took heart from scoring the game's opening goal, as well as the effort contributed from the first team and the young players called up from their USL side, Real Monarchs. Giving up an equalizer on an unmarked man in the box before the late game-winner gave Cassar and his staff fodder for improvement, however.
Jordan Allen gave RSL a lead in the 18th minute after Inter were unable to properly clear Joao Plata’s corner-kick delivery into the penalty box. The Homegrown continues to provide an offensive spark for RSL, whether he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, playing out wide or in the attacking midfield spot he manned on Tuesday.
“When he plays that position he does things differently than our other No. 10s,” Cassar said. “We’re able to get in behind a little bit more and cause the defense some problems.
“Jordan is learning the things that he is able to be successful with. Now he’s able to play quicker. He’s learning really fast and I think his ceiling is really high and he’s getting better and better.”
Inter equalized in the 42nd minute on a corner kick of their own. Caner Erkin put his service on the far corner 12 yards out, where a wide-open Danilo D’Ambrosio one-timed the ball into the net to tie the game.
In the second half, Jovetic had two of Inter’s best looks at goal before he found the winner. He chipped a ball against the post in the 75th minute after missing just wide from six yards out in the 74th minute.
Inter's visit marked the first time Salt Lake have faced a European club at Rio Tinto, and just the third time in the club’s history: They beat Everton in 2007 and lost to Real Madrid in 2006, both at Rice Eccles Stadium.
Inter manager Roberto Mancini has made similar US trips in his previous stint at Manchester City, and on Tuesday praised the ample opportunities to grow the game and prepare for the season ahead.
“They can work well because the weather is good,” Mancini said. “You can play a good game like tonight and afterward we can play another good match against Bayern Munich or PSG. Also, the soccer here is important for a team like Inter.”
RSL signed eight players to short-term deals for Tuesday's friendly, and gave them about an hour on the field after subbing several starters after 30 minutes. The extended look gave the coaching staff an opportunity to see their USL players tested against top opposition.
“Each of them had moments,” Cassar said of his squad. “Even the Monarchs players who played with us had moments and did a lot of good things.”
RSL return to MLS action on Friday when they host the San Jose Earthquakes for a Viernes de Futbol clash (11 pm ET; UniMás in US, MLS LIVE in Canada).