Aug 11, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) and Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7) battle for the ball during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
SANDY, Utah — When Real Salt Lake (10-9-5) is so dominant home, anything but a win feels almost like a loss.
Against the Montreal Impact (9-13-3) Saturday night, RSL started out played well. The team showed good ball movement and its defense wasn’t letting Montreal’s offense find any sort of rhythm. But momentum shifted in between the first and second half. The Impact came out ready to attack RSL’s weak spots and the visitors tied the game in the 55th minute to end the night in a 1-1 draw.
After the game, head coach Mike Petke mentioned how some of the recent home draws have been disappointing, but he’ll take a point wherever it comes from.
“It’s a little frustrating. Teams, to their credit, come in and do a good job of getting behind the ball and the counterattack,” Petke said. “Tonight, we had numerous opportunities to put them away, we just couldn’t find that one. A point’s a point. Might feel like two dropped points, but a point’s a point.”
Real has won nine of its 10 games at home, so for a team that struggles so much on the road, a win before a three-game road stretch was important in rallying the players together and building a bit of confidence. And in the first half, it looked as if things would go RSL’s way.
Joao Plata nearly burned Montreal on a free kick just outside the box in the early goings of the first half, but even though he was able to get a beautiful bend on the ball, Montreal’s goalie Evan Bush timed his dive perfectly to keep the score 0-0.
RSL was awarded a penalty in the 24th minute after Ken Krolicki fouled Plata in the box. After Krolicki argued with the official for a couple of minutes, Plata’s attempt to the bottom left corner of the net gave RSL a 1-0 advantage. And while hindsight is 20/20, Petke wishes he would have changed his players’ positioning on the field following that score.
“Up one nothing, I probably should have pulled back, probably Albert [Rusnák], in the top of the box,” Petke said.
RSL’s defenders were often able to catch up with Montreal during counterattacks in the first 45 minutes, but there were quite a few times it looked like they just didn’t have enough energy to keep pace. But if Real’s defense couldn’t quite make it, Nick Rimando was there for insurance. He ended the night with three saves.
After halftime, Montreal returned to pitch with a renewed sense of energy, and in the 55th minute the Impact scored the equalizer. Alejandro Silva played a ball from the right side of the pitch to the left to Jukka Raitala. Then, Raitalahit hit a rocket with his left foot to find the back of the right side of the net to even things up at 1-1.
Each squad had a couple of solid looks at scoring the game-winning goal in stoppage time, but both goalies didn’t allow that to happen. RSL held a majority of the possession at 57.6 percent, and announced attendance was at 18,901.
Captain and midfielder Kyle Beckerman hopes RSL can get back on track when it plays LAFC on the road on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. MT. Though Wednesday night could be seen as a revenge match for RSL after LAFC throttled Real at home 5-1 early in the season, Beckerman is approaching it as any other night of competition.
“I think we’d like to show better, nobody thought that [ four goal loss] was going to happen — it was kind of a wakeup call for us,” Beckerman said. “Definitely we want to get some respect back, but for the most part it’s just a Western Conference game, a team that’s above us by just a few points.”