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Sloppy defensively, Real Salt Lake escapes with draw against Philly

SHARE Sloppy defensively, Real Salt Lake escapes with draw against Philly

SANDY — With weird deflections, strange calls, stranger goals and a soft PK equalizer, Real Salt Lake's home opener on Saturday had a bit of everything.

In the end, RSL and Philadelphia both walked off the Rio Tinto Stadium pitch dissatisfied following the bizarre 3-3 draw.

Philadelphia no doubt feels cheated after a questionable penalty allowed RSL to level the match in the 85th minute, but conversely Real Salt Lake feels unlucky too after conceding three very strange goals to the Union. One came off an odd deflection, another off a quick throw-in and another off an own goal.

“At the end of the day the score is probably the right score,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar. “I thought we did enough to win, obviously when you score three goals at home you typically are going to walk away with a victory, but we did enough to lose the game as well.”

It looked like Real Salt Lake was headed for that loss too until the referee intervened.

Second-half substitute Luke Mulholland made a great attacking run into the box in the 85th minute, but after getting knocked off the ball a bit, it looked liked the chance had vanished. Instead, the ref pointed to the spot.

Mulholland was as surprised as anyone. Asked afterward if it was a penalty, he said, “In my book, no.”

Nonetheless, Alvaro Saborio stepped up and buried the penalty kick leveling the score 3-3 and securing back-to-back draws for both teams. The goal also kept RSL’s unbeaten record in home openers intact at 6-0-5.

“Philadelphia are going to feel hard done by, (but) I hope they know I didn’t take a dive. I have a bruise on my shin to show it,” said Mulholland. “Sometimes luck goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Definitely think we were fortunate to get the penalty.”

Sharp a week ago, Real Salt Lake’s defense was uncharacteristically out of sorts in Saturday’s sold-out home opener. It held on to salvage a draw, but the back end just wasn’t good enough — lucky or unlucky.

“We’re going to continually get better, we’re going to learn how to be aggressive and defensive at the same time. You’ve seen two different games from us, and that’s pretty much the sign of a team doing new things,” said Cassar, referencing the team’s new 4-3-3 formation.

RSL will have an extra week to work on those inconsistencies until returning to the field in two weeks at home against Toronto.

Real Salt Lake went ahead 1-0 in the 29th minute as Javier Morales whipped a free kick from the top of the box around the Philly wall and into the upper right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“Too close to go over the wall, and I talked with Kyle (Beckerman) and (said) I had confidence to shoot pretty hard to the goalkeeper's post,” said Morales.

After several near misses, it was a deserved early lead for the home side.

The lead lasted just five minutes thanks to a freak bounce off Kyle Beckerman’s back. Following a giveaway by Demar Phillips — making his RSL debut — Philadelphia’s Cristian Maidana whipped a cross into the box from the right sideline. It redirected off Beckerman’s back and on frame, forcing Nick Rimando into recovery mode to keep it out of the back of the net.

Rimando fell into his own goal after making the save, and Fernando Aristeguieta was right there on the doorstep to head in the equalizer in the 35th minute.

Three minutes later, a quick throw-in by Philadelphia caught RSL’s backline off guard and Aristeguieta was there again for the opportunistic finish and the 2-1 lead.

Schuler’s booming clearance out of bounds hadn’t even bounced in the stands yet when Maidana grabbed another ball and threw the ball in behind Real Salt Lake’s backline.

Early in the second half, both teams scored during a bizarre three-minute stretch in which Jamison Olave score a goal in both nets.

In the 55th minute, he tied the score 2-2 on a fluke header from a Morales cross that first came off Olmes Garcia’s knee. In the 58th minute, he tried to clear a Maidana cross but instead redirected it into the back of the net putting the Union back in front 3-2.

“We played pretty good but we made a couple mistakes and they scored three goals,” said Morales. “We have to be more focused on the game, every detail sometimes make the difference.”

Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.