Real Salt Lake have never won at DC United’s home stadium. That didn’t change tonight.
Choppy play, yellow cards and frustration just about summed up RSL’s game until, once again, the subs came in. United managed to pin Real into their half until around the 60th minute when Joao Plata came on for Robbie Findley, who has been almost invisible for these first two games, and whose speed hasn’t been utilized very much at all. Abdoulie Mensally came off for Lovell Palmer and draftee John Stertzer came on for Khari Stephenson. These subs unfortunately didn’t happen before DC’s unmarked Pajoy managed to head a rebound into the net putting the home team up 1-0. The subs provided a spark and helped the team conjure a response to the United goal, however, RSL failed to equalize.
You can tell that this defense is still learning how to play with each other. RSL normally plays out of the back through the midfield, and up to the forwards, with outside midfielders and defenders overlapping, but the passes to the midfielders were easily picked off by DCU, and the forwards remained basically disjointed.
Nick Rimando was his usual self. His height doesn’t normally factor into his keeping skills, but he could have used a couple more inches to parry away a shot from distance that he instead rebounded into the box leading to the goal. In his defense, the RSL players should have pulled out of the box and kept Pajoy offsides instead of leaving him open for the goal. Other than that, he was stellar! Good saves against his former team must make them regret ever trading him.
Credit needs to be given to DC United for their pressure and hard work, but inconsistent calls by the referee left RSL asking questions at the end of the game. Handballs that were called on RSL and not called on DCU left captain Kyle Beckerman scratching his head and then very carefully (to avoid a fine) stated so in his post-game interview.
RSL has their home opener next week against rivals Colorado Rapids. Retaining the Rocky Mountain Cup and a win over a team they don’t like may just be the best medicine for overcoming a frustrating loss.