It’s not about being an individual, it’s about the team and we’re going to need that going forward. – RSL coach Jeff Cassar
SANDY — Real Salt Lake avoided a colossal mishap Tuesday evening at home, finding a pair of second half goals to come back and defeat Seattle Sounders 2 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 2-1.
“What we need is the 11 players on the field that want to win, and then the substitutions that will do anything it takes to help us win games,” RSL coach Jeff Cassar. “It’s not about being an individual, it’s about the team and we’re going to need that going forward.”
Real Salt Lake had its chances early on in the match, seeking to set the tone early in the match.
Devon Sandoval nearly scored the first goal just six minutes in when he took an Olmes Garcia cross in the box before toying with the ball at the top of the six-yard line and firing a shot at the far post.
Had Sandoval found the back of the net, he’d become the club's all-time leading scorer in the Open Cup with four goals in the tournament—surpassing RSL captain Kyle Beckerman and club legend Jason Kreis.
However, Seattle was the one to respond just moments later on a free kick. After being awarded a dangerous spot just outside of the box, Sounders 2 midfielder Pablo Rossi took a clean attempt on frame that had to be parried away by a diving Jeff Attinella.
The USL side would be rewarded for their willingness to break into the attacking third with a clutch goal in first half stoppage time.
Giuliano Frano elected for the quick throw-in for Sounders 2, surprising RSL with a dangerous ball into the area where Sam Garza collected was able to finish with a chip shot at the far post past Attinella.
“Their goal came on a letdown mentally from our team. Everyone just thought the whistle was going to blow,” said Cassar. “We have to be sharp for 90 minutes to win games.”
RSL felt it was robbed of a potential penalty kick in the 52nd minute, when Garcia looked to be clearly taken down from behind in the box. The no-call sent the 8,208 fans in attendance into a chorus of boos aimed at the officials.
In the 58th minute it was Sandoval again with a chance on frame for RSL, this time taking a Demar Phillips cross into the box on his head and off the crossbar for the near equalizer.
But Joao Plata was able to level things in the 62nd minute, netting the equalizer off a beautiful setup by both Garcia and Javier Morales. Garcia was able to collect Morales’ chipped ball at the corner post then beat the defender into the box before finding the foot of Plata.
Some confusion ensued before, and likely after, RSL was able to net the game winner in the 72nd minute. Sounders 2 committed a silly penalty less than 10 yards away from the goal line when goalkeeper Saif Kerawala accidently picked up a back pass from a Seattle defender with his hands.
Instead of whistling a penalty kick, the officials elected to give RSL the spot foul just outside the six-yard box, where maestro JMorales was able to somehow squeeze the game winner past the entire Seattle squad.
“I think collectively the guys stepped up. I thought our substitutions brought energy and quality, which at a certain point we needed,” said Cassar. “I thought we created a lot of chances in the second half, so a lot of positive things. You can see where we can be explosive. You see where we can be dynamic. Can we do that more?”
FIRST-TEAM NEWBIES: Both Boyd Okwuonu and Pecka made their first-team debuts for RSL Tuesday night, getting the starting nod from Cassar for the Open Cup match.
Okwuono is fresh off a trip to France with the U-23 national team, but was given the start and played exceptionally well down the flank. Pecka’s first-team debut was cut short mainly due to RSL trailing 0-1 when Morales came on in the 58th minute as a substitution, but Pecka did play well alongside John Stertzer to control the middle of the pitch.
Phanuel Kavita also saw first-team experience in the 38th minute, taking the pitch for the first time this season for RSL after defender Justen Glad was forced out of the match with a possible concussion.
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