Monday, April 22, 2013
SANDY, Utah –The Real Salt Lake Reserves (2-1-2) played USL PRO side Phoenix FC to a wild scoreless draw in front of a great crowd of 8,263 at Rio Tinto Stadium in MLS Reserve League play on Monday night.
Three players – Phoenix FC goalkeeper Andrew Weber and defender Renan Boufleur and Real Salt Lake defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe – were shown straight red cards and ejected from the game in first half stoppage time for their role in a melee. The scrum started just outside the Phoenix box following a RSL set play and involved numerous players from both sides.
RSL put Phoenix FC (1-3-1) under siege following the ejections, holding a huge possession advantage and registering 24 total shots against the nine-man minor-league club. Despite that, the Claret-and-Cobalt couldn’t tally a winner, struggling to find any openings near goal against the bunkered-in Phoenix defense.
“It’s disappointing,” RSL Reserves Head Coach Jeff Cassar said after the match. “You get the fan support that we had – and we wanted it to be a special night – and we just didn’t come out with the energy we needed. [Phoenix FC] wanted it, their players all want our players’ jobs and they played hungrier than we did and that’s sad because we had a great crowd out there and we wanted to put on a good performance for them.”
Real Salt Lake did come close to scoring on several occasions. Khari Stephenson had a good look in the first half, ripping a 40-yard free kick toward the bottom right corner that Weber blocked in the 27th minute. Substitute David Viana had a decent chance almost immediately after coming on in the 65th, driving a low shot from 25 yards just wide of the left post.
RSL’s best look came in the 67th minute, when Carlos Salcedo collected a ball left of center and let fly from 20 yards, rocketing his driven shot inches over the crossbar at the top right corner. Viana had another long-range shot go wide in the 68th and Stephenson had a booming drive tipped out for a corner by substitute goalkeeper Sheldon Parkinson in the 79th. RSL pushed hard for a goal in the closing minutes of the match, but couldn’t quite find the elusive winner.
Monday’s game was a part of the groundbreaking partnership announced by MLS and USL PRO earlier this year. As part of the partnership, each MLS side that isn’t directly affiliated with a USL PRO club will play a home-and-home Reserve League series against a team from USL PRO. The RSL Reserves will travel to Arizona for this series’ return leg at Phoenix FC on June 15 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will return to MLS regular season action this Saturday, when it will host Western Conference rival L.A. Galaxy at 7 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. A limited number of tickets are still available to Saturday’s match and can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
The RSL Reserves’ next game is on Sunday against the L.A. Galaxy Reserves. Sunday’s Reserve League match will kickoff at 11:00 a.m. MT at America First Field in Sandy and will be free to the public.