SANDY, UT – Feeling confident after victory in their home opener at Red Bull Arena, the team traveled to a place the team hasn’t won a regular-season match at Rio Tinto Stadium since the Western Conference championship match back in 2008.
Coach Chris Armas deployed the same starting IX when they faced FC Cincinnati on Sunday. And, just as before, the Red Bulls started aggressively, dictating the match on their terms early and often.
Because of this, it didn’t take very long for the Red Bulls to be duly rewarded for their efforts.
Off a brilliant one-handed save by David Jensen, which negated an essential scoring chance off a corner kick, Christian Casseres gave the Red Bulls the lead in the 13th minute.
He did so by splitting two defenders, winning the ball with his chest, then launched a screamer which bounced past RSL keeper Zac MacMath at the near post.
With RSL yet to score a goal this season, their chances to equalize the match came mostly off set-pieces, and nearly all of them required some last-minute defensive heroics off the goal line by the New York defenders. First by Kyle Duncan and then by Sean Davis, continuing the frustrations of the would-be scorers. Buy the time the half ended, one would be forgiven if the Red Bulls were looking to get to the locker room with a 1-0 lead, let alone a win of the match.
Chaos, controversy and Drama in the Second Half
The defensive chaos picked up right where they left off in the second half, with David Jensen coming up huge with a yet another save to keep the home side scoreless. Real Salt Lake would finish the day with 21 shots, 6 on goal. Real Salt Lake thought they got the equalizer in the 70th minute, but after further review, VAR removed Douglas Martinez’s goal after his header glanced off his arm before the ball went into the net.
However, just as the match entered stoppage time, Real Salt Lake finally found the equalizer they were searching for, and this time, it counts. Damir Kreilach split two New York’s tired defenders, and his header did the rest, tying the match at one. The Red Bulls held on until the final whistle to secure a point on the road.
They say a hard-earned point on the road is a normally a good one. But, if one looks beyond the boxscore they would find that the Red Bulls still need to work on their defense in late stretches of the match. RSL began to press the attack early and often in the second half, giving Patrick Seagrist everything he could handle. At crucial moments, he was often out of the play, giving the RSL attackers lots of room to make shots and create havoc in the box.
Time will tell if he is the solution or the team will have to look elsewhere to plug a gaping hole left by the departure of Kemar Lawrence.