It wasn't easy, but Real Salt Lake used three late goals to defeat a Colorado Rapids side that played a man down for 70 minutes to earn a 3-0 win Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Two video reviews proved the difference. Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard was shown red after he handled the ball outside the box on a break by Jefferson Savarino after just 20 minutes. However the home side struggled to take advantage of the advantage until the late stages.
The game finally broke open in the 82nd minute, when video review confirmed that Colorado's Tommy Smith used his hand to block a shot from the ground inside the box. Salt Lake's Joao Plata stepped up and buried the penalty kick past Zac MacMath.
RSL then put the match away with a goal from Damir Kreilach and free kick from Albert Rusnák in the dying minutes to claim the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
- 82' – RSL – Joao Plata (PK)
- 89' – RSL – Damir Kreilach
- 92+ – RSL – Albert Rusnák
- THE BIG PICTURE: RSL continued its home dominance over their rivals, who haven't won in Utah since 2007, and took the lead in retaining the Rocky Mountain Cup. More importantly, RSL bounced back from a bad loss to NYCFC. For Colorado, the loss was their first since the season opener, and ends a four game unbeaten run.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The red to Howard was the moment of the match...until the end. While Howard's red forced Colorado to play a man down, it was the call on Tommy Smith's handball with less than 10 to play that changed the game, setting up the penalty kick that proved to be the game-winner.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Hard to pick, but I'll go with Rusnák, because he set up Kreilach's first MLS goal and then finished with this beautiful free kick:
Albert. Rusnák. 💫 pic.twitter.com/zmTPU5QnUA— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 22, 2018
- RSL: Friday, April 21 vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8:30 PM MT)
- COL: Sunday, April 29 vs Orlando City SC (2:00 PM MT | ESPN)