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 Utah Royals FC

Late-Game RSL Magic Yet Again Finds Point at Seattle

May 30, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Utah Royals FC News Release


SEATTLE, Wash. - Real Salt Lake (8-2-6 / 30 points / 1st West) crafted another magical late-game comeback with a 90+9 equalizer from All-Star hopeful Andrés Gómez in the final minute of stoppage time. Refusing to lose, the performance is not only an encore to the Claret-and-Cobalt's barnstorming three-goal comeback and stoppage-time equalizer just four days earlier in Dallas, but the draw extends Real's historic unbeaten streak to a staggering 12 matches.

Real Salt Lake was the clear aggressor on a rainy night along the Puget Sound as both teams looked to establish an early presence, intercepting four balls in Seattle territory within the first five minutes of play. The fourth saw Diego Luna cleverly pick off Sounders in their buildup, knifing towards goal before he was taken down to earn an early penalty kick - but the call was reversed to a free kick on the edge of the box following review.

Real's 19-year-old goal 'keeper Gavin Beavers was busy in the heart of the first 45, repeatedly coming off his line to punch danger away. His finest moment of work came in the 35th minute as Seattle burst forward, putting together a five-pass combination that culminated with an Obed Vargas one-time rocket from distance. Barreling towards the top corner, Beavers dove at full extension to his left, getting a glove on the strike to send it wide. Beavers then stepped up for an encore just four minutes later, denying a Cristian Roldan blast from inside the box to keep his team level.

RSL nearly jumped out to a lead in the 41st minute as its high pressing defense once again converted into attack. Hounding Seattle defenders as they passed along the back line, Anderson Julio jumped the passing lane and, noticing MLS veteran Stefan Frei was off his line, ripped a shot from more than 30 yards that went just wide of the post. Neither team could break through, however, heading to the locker rooms with a fresh scoreboard - the two sides sharing similar possession, expected goals, shots on target and passing accuracy.

Coming out for the second half, Seattle created a prime chance almost immediately. As a long ball was played into the RSL defensive zone, it fell to the feet of Raúl Ruidíaz. He played to Jordan Morris on the edge of the box who then held up play for the overlapping run of Albert Rusnak. Laying it off at point-blank range, Rusnak's shot was blocked by a heroic last-second intervention by tonight's RSL Captain, Justen Glad.

Beavers once again played the role of hero in the 66th minute, making another full-extension save on yet another outside-the-box strike from Sounders. Despite the collection of impressive saves, Beavers would lose his clean sheet - and a 257-minute shutout streak dating back to March 9 in MLS action - in the 68th minute, when Rusnák gave Seattle a 1-0 lead. Standing over the ball for a free kick from a deep position on the right side, Rusnák faked as though he was whipping in a cross to his teammates at the far post but instead ripped a low-driven shot at Beaver's near post. Diving to get a glove on it, the pace and power was too much as it trickled into the net.

MLS MVP candidate and usual RSL Captain Chicho Arango, in his first substitute appearance this MLS season, injected life into the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 81st minute. Positioned in a pocket between defenders on the right side of the midfield, he received the lay-off from Gómez and promptly smashed it at the near post from distance with his famed right foot, nearly leveling the match aside from a good save by Frei. Again in the first minute of stoppage time, RSL had a primetime chance for an equalizer. As Brayan Vera took a free kick from the left side of the Seattle zone, his cross bounced around the traffic of the box before falling right to the feet of Fidel Barajas. Shooting from point-blank range with his right foot, Frei saved it back into play for Barajas again, this time sending it over the bar with his left.

Coming directly off a Seattle dagger that was called back for a foul, Real Salt Lake threw themselves forward with the final whistle looming to net a shocking last-minute equalizer. Vera controlled the ball in the RSL half with all nine of his outfield teammates charging forward. He floated a beautiful ball all the way into the box as Matt Crooks used his 6'6'' frame to elevate and win the header. Arango then leapt forward as it floated across the box, heading it left to the feet of his Columbian compatriot Gómez for the one-time shot. The first was deflected, but Gómez wouldn't be denied as it came back to him for the clinical nutmeg finish.

First-place RSL improves to three wins and five draws against just one loss away from home this season, last losing a road match in the 2024 MLS opener back on Feb. 21 at Miami. Tonight's RSL comeback marks the fifth time the Claret-and-Cobalt have come from behind this season to earn 11 of its 30 points: 2-1 win at Vancouver on March 23, a 3-1 win vs. St. Louis on March 30, a 5-3 home win over Colorado, last week's 3-3 draw at Dallas and tonight's last-minute equalizer. Arango was shut out from finding the scoresheet for just the fifth time in 16 matches this season, but remains tied for the MLS Golden Boot lead with his 13 goals and 8 assists.

Off to the best start in Club history with 30 points from 16 matches (exceeding both 2016 and 2014), RSL has ascended to the top of the Western Conference for its latest first-place bragging rights in the calendar since April 30, 2016, and the latest solo No. 1 in the West since August 2013. This week's back-to-back road contests precede Saturday's home match against Austin FC, just the fourth of four America First Field matches for RSL from mid-April to mid-June, the Claret-and-Cobalt playing eight of 12 away from home during that span, including the trip to Dallas and tonight at Seattle. RSL will then enjoy a much-needed June 8 international bye weekend prior to again traveling to Montreal and Kansas City on June 15/19 to wrap up the circuitous gauntlet.

RSL 1 : 1 at SEA

GOAL-SCORING SUMMARY:

SEA - 68' - Albert Rusnák (Unassisted): Standing over the ball for a free kick from a deep position on the right side, Rusnák faked as though he was whipping in a cross to his teammates at the far post but instead ripped a low-driven shot at Beaver's near post. Diving to get a glove on it, the pace and power was too much as it trickled into the net.

RSL - 90+9' - Andrés Gómez (Unassisted): Brayan Vera controlled the ball in the RSL half with all nine of his outfield teammates charging forward. He floated a beautiful ball all the way into the box as Matt Crooks used his 6'6'' frame to elevate and win the header. Arango then leapt forward as it floated across the box, heading it left to the feet of his Columbian compatriot Gomez for the one-time shot. The first was deflected, but Gomez wouldn't be denied as it came back to him for the clinical nutmeg finish.

NOTES FROM RSL 1 : 1 @ SEA

Andrés Gómez's 90+9 equalizing goal is the latest equalizer in Real Salt Lake's 630-match history.

The late equalizer marks the third consecutive comeback for RSL, earning five points from the stretch (5-3 vs. Colorado, 3-3 @ Dallas, 1-1 @ Seattle).. The three matches have seen RSL score five goals in the final six minutes of play plus stoppage time.

30 points through 16 matches in the best-ever start for Real Salt Lake, surpassing both 2016 and 2014.

Nelson Palacio earned his first start with RSL since the Feb. 21 opener at Miami, following Saturday's performance in Dallas that saw him score his first-ever RSL goal, a 90+8 stoppage-time equalizer.

Captain Chicho Arango started on the bench for the first time this MLS season in the midst of a three-game week, subbing on in the 58th minute for an injured Anderson Julio to provide a much-needed spark.

19-year-old Gavin Beavers earns his fourth start of the MLS season for RSL, finishing 360 minutes of play with only three goals allowed and 15 saves, with a 257-minute shutout streak from March 9 to May 29 across matches against Colorado at home, Chicago away, and both May matches against Seattle.

RSL finishes the season series with Seattle on top, earning a win and a draw (4 pts.) from the two matches with a 3-1 goal differential.

The active 12-game MLS unbeaten run is tied for the second-longest single-season streak and the Club's fourth-longest overall in RSL's 20-season history, exceeding last year's 11-game streak across three competitions, as well as a 16-game run from 2013 into 2014, and a Club-record 18-game unbeaten streak from July 2010 to April 2011. The eight consecutive matches unbeaten away is the second-longest streak in Club history.

For the first time ever, RSL now owns back-to-back seasons with unbeaten runs of nine games or longer ... With three more win/draw results against Austin Saturday and at Montreal / Kansas City in mid-June, RSL would establish a new single-season unbeaten streak record (14 games in 2010).

Tonight, MF Emeka Eneli played the full 90 once again (1420 minutes of a possible 1440) after he was subbed out for the first time this season in the 70th minute on Saturday in Dallas, ending his "Iron Man" streak ... Eneli and FW Chicho Arango (1355 min.) have played nearly every minute of the Club's 16-game MLS season so far in 2024, with DF Andrew Brody (1210) also appearing in every match.

Three players have appeared in 15 league games, missing just one game this year - Anderson Julio, Braian Ojeda and Andrés Gómez - while Justen Glad, Matt Crooks, Diego Luna and Fidel Barajas have each appeared in 14 of 16 MLS contests thus far, finishing off a heavily congested month Saturday against Austin.

LINEUPS:

Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Gavin Beavers; Philip Quinton (Andrew Brody, 83'); Bryan Oviedo (Alex Katranis, 83'); Justen Glad ©; Brayan Vera; Emeka Eneli; Nelson Palacio (Braian Ojeda, 64'); Andrés Gómez; Maikel Chang (Matt Crooks, 34'); Diego Luna (Fidel Barajas, 64'); Anderson Julio (Chicho Arango, 58')

Subs not used: Zac MacMath, Bertin Jacquesson

Seattle Sounders (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei; Alex Roldan; Nouhou; Yeimar; Jackson Ragen; Obed Vargas; João Paulo (Paul Rothrock, 90+3'); Cristian Roldan (Reed Baker-Whiting, 74'); Albert Rusnák; Jordan Morris (Joshua Atencio, 83'); Raúl Ruidíaz (Danny Musovski, 83')

Subs not used: Andrew Thomas, Danny Leyva, Dylan Teves, Sota Kitahara, Cody Baker

Stats Summary: SEA / RSL

Shots: 17 / 19

Shots on Goal: 5 / 4

Saves: 3 / 4

Corner Kicks: 11 / 4

Fouls: 11 / 13

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:

RSL: Bryan Oviedo (Caution - 67')

RSL: Matt Crooks (Caution - 75')

SEA: Obed Vargas (Caution - 87')

SEA: Reed Baker-Whiting (Caution - 90+4')

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