SANDY, Utah-- After Alvaro Saborio, the Costa Rican international, scored his first MLS goal in the final minute of stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders in front of over 19,000 at Rio Tinto Stadium, his teammates were probably thinking, "Welcome to MLS!"
Steve Zakuani and Tyrone Marshall scored for the visitors, while Saborio and Will Johnson made sure the RSL fanbase went home at least somewhat happy.
Possession in the early minutes was dominated by Real Salt Lake, but they were unable to generate anything except a couple of close calls. The lion’s share of Seattle’s attack came via counterattacks from the potent trio of Zakuani, Montero, and Freddy Ljungberg.
In the 11th minute, the Sounders attack showed their mettle as they nabbed a goal against the run of play. After a quick steal by Montero in the midfield, he found a streaking Zakuani running unmarked up the left wing. Zakuani took a pair of touches toward goal and slotted a shot past Nick Rimando.
Salt Lake didn’t have their first good chance until the 20th minute when Javier Morales dribbled through a few defenders and put a cross onto the head of Robbie Findley, but Findley’s header went just wide of the far post. Only seconds later, Johnson latched onto a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and ripped it at goal, but Kasey Keller made an outstanding save to deny RSL the equalizer.
The remainder of the half was a bit disorganized for both teams. Salt Lake had trouble finding the organization that served them well in the early going. Their attack was hampered by injuries to two key midfielders - Javier Morales had to be subbed early, while Ned Grabavoy had to come off at halftime.
Meanwhile, Seattle was content to counterattack being that RSL gave them plenty of space in the midfield, but they weren’t able to create any dangerous scoring chances from their counters.
RSL wasted no time getting themselves back into the game. In the 52nd minute, Robbie Russell put an excellent cross from the right side to the far post, where Johnson made a spectacular diving header that left Keller with no chance.
The second half went on much like the last 20 minutes of the first half. Salt Lake had difficulty combining anywhere on the field, while Seattle were content to defend and counterattack.
In the 72nd minute, Seattle again capitalized on a counterattack, this time converting a set piece created by one such counter. After a foul on the left side of the field, Ljungberg lofted a free kick to the far post, just inside the six-yard box where Marshall neatly headed it inside the far post to give Seattle the 2-1 lead.
Salt Lake pushed hard for the equalizer as the game opened up a bit. On a rare RSL counterattack in the 79th minute, Fabian Espindola hooked a cross from the right side onto the far post where second-half substitute Saborio got his head on it. His header missed the far post by inches.
But in minute 94+, Saborio didn’t miss, and instead played hero for Salt Lake. On what ended up being the final play of the night, a right-side corner from Nelson Gonzalez flew to the far post where Saborio rose and tucked a header just inside the post. As Seattle kicked off, the final whistle blew to put an end to the evening’s drama.
Seattle now enjoys 11 days off before traveling to Frisco to visit FC Dallas, while RSL continue their brutal early-season schedule with a visit to the Home Depot Center where they will take on the LA Galaxy in the highly-anticipated rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup Final.
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