The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Last action heroes

By Tony Pizza

Last year, Real Salt Lake made a habit of surrendering late goals, which either prevented the team from winning a match or caused it to lose all together.

After just one game, it may be a little early in the season to say that RSL’s problem is habit-forming this year, but the fact that RSL squandered its 2-1 lead in the final minute of injury time in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with FC Dallas is reason for concern-especially for head coach John Ellinger.

“Here we go again,” Ellinger said after the game. “We missed the playoffs last year by two points and we just gave two points away. That’s how I look at it.”

The squandering of those two points came in the last of four minutes of stoppage time that were tacked onto the end of the game.

With FC Dallas desperately pressing forward for an equalizer, midfielder Clarence Goodson sent a ball into the RSL penalty box from 40 yards straight away. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando broke on the ball and attempted to clear it away. But defender Jack Stewart barely got a piece of the ball with his head, which allowed Carlos Ruiz the chance to tie the game off his own head as he flicked the ball to the back of the RSL net.

“The ball came in the box, I yelled ‘keeper’?Jack gets his head on it and hits it over me,” Rimando said. “They get a goal. It shouldn’t have happened. We’ve just got to concentrate and I think we’ll be all right.”

RSL showed many other examples of why the team might be better than all right this year.

RSL had a brilliant chance to go up 1-0 in the opening minute of the game, but Mehdi Ballouchy’s straight-on shot from 15 yards ricocheted off the crossbar.

Although FC Dallas went up 1-0 in the 18th minute when Kenny Cooper punched a shot into the RSL goal on a pass from Ruiz, RSL did not stop fighting.

In the 29th minute, Chris Klein sent a pass from the right side of midfield and found Jeff Cunningham at the top of the Dallas penalty area. Dallas defender Drew Moor slipped, which allowed the 2006 scoring leader to slip a shot inside the right post to draw the game even at one goal apiece.

“In the first half (our play) was beautiful,” Cunningham said. “We played good football.”

Five minutes into the second half, Cunningham struck again. RSL decided to play a corner kick short from the left side, and Ballouchy found teammate Jason Kreis wide open at the top of the box. Kreis rifled a shot on frame and Dallas goalkeeper Shaka Hislop made a great save for Dallas. But Hislop could not control the deflection and the ball squirted right. Cunningham flew to the ball to clean up the mess and safely tucked a shot into the FC Dallas goal to give RSL a 2-1 lead.

After taking the lead, RSL played good defense overall, but did let a few opportunities to burn time off the clock slip away.

“I would have liked to (have) kept the ball a little more offensively,” Ellinger said. “I felt we tried to almost get in behind whenever we had the ball, rather than knock it around a little bit. The problem is when you go for the homerun; the next thing you know, you’re defending again.”

The levee finally broke for RSL in the final minute of the game, but there was still some sense of victory in the draw.

Off-season acquisition Freddy Adu looked every bit as fast and skilled with the ball as advertised and the team as a whole looked more patient and controlled compared with last year.

“We kept possession of the ball pretty well, and that’s one aspect of the game that this team has gotten much, much better at, and I think we proved it out there,” Adu said. “FC Dallas is one of the best teams in the league?we just didn’t finish the game out.”

Closing the game out was the theme of the locker room after the game. Klein seemed to sum up the general feeling: “If we’re going to be a very good team this year, we’re going to have to learn to close those one-goal games,” Klein said. “We didn’t do that today, but I think we played very well.”

The good news is RSL did capture a point in its first game of the season, which is something it failed to do until the third game last season. Cunningham gave RSL two goals, which is something RSL failed to do until the third game last year as well, but that wasn’t much of a parting gift.

“These two goals help, but honestly, I would trade them for three points at home,” Cunningham said. “We have a good team and we deserved a good start to the ’07 campaign.”

Lennie Mahler

Eddie Pope and Jason Kreis battle for the ball with FC Dallas’ Carlos Ruiz in Saturday’s season opener. The teams played to a 2-2 draw.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy here.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *