Controversy ends crazy contest: RSL 3-3 Union

Another RSL-Union game, another wild contest, another late game penalty kick, and another draw for these two clubs.

The Union (0-2-0, W-D-L) nearly earned their first victory over Real Salt Lake (0-2-0) in club history thanks in part to Fernando Aristeguieta first two MLS goals. But a controversial late penalty for RSL ended a wild contest at Rio Tinto Stadium as the teams split the points after a 3-3 draw Saturday night.

RSL pushed the pace of the match early on, forcing Rais M’Bohli to make tough saves off of corners and deadeye strikes from outside the box. Nick Rimando made his share of saves from Union strikes as well, and 25 minutes in, this seemed like it would be a battle of two world class goaltenders.

That’s when a beautiful Javier Morales free kick deflected off of defender Ray Gaddis, finding the upper right 90 for the game’s opening score.

But seven minutes later, the Union capitalized on a rare miscue by Kyle Beckerman. The stalwart RSL defender incidentally deflected a Chaco Maidana cross straight into goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Per usual, the Wall of Watash made a gorgeous save on the ball. Unfortunately for the U.S. National teamer, his save landed in front of Aristeguieta, who knocked in the equalizer with an easy header.

It only took the U five minutes to take the lead, as a Maidana throw-in flew over an RSL defender’s head and found Fernando in space. The Venezuelan international booted it past Rimando’s far side to give Philadelphia a 2-1 advantage.

The drastic turn of events created by their own miscues seemed to take the wind out of RSL’s sails as the pace slowed drastically for the rest of the first half and the Salt Lake players booted passes too long and failed to create scoring chances.

RSL came out in the second half with boots blazing, however, attacking the Union half and nearly scoring on a Luis Gil shot inside the box in the half’s opening minutes. But it was Jameson Olave who tied the game for RSL in the 55th minute, stretching out to head a opportunistic free kick past M’Bohli to level the game at two.

Olave would score the game’s next goal three minutes later. Unfortunately for the home side, he knocked the ball into his own goal after a clearance went awry, putting Philadelphia ahead once again.

Salt Lake spent the final half hour of the game searching for another equalizing goal and was finally handed the opportunity in the 86th minute as Luke Mulholland appeared to slip in the box and was awarded a penalty. Alvaro Saborio converted from the spot to finish the game at 3-3.

This was the fourth straight game these two clubs have played one another to a draw. RSL will likely be happy with this is a hard fought point, while the Union earn another bittersweet draw early this season. Despite fans being frustrated with the fashion in which they lost the game, a point at Rio Tinto is a point that not many other Eastern Conference teams will earn this season.

Salt Lake is off next week before hosting Toronto FC (1-0-1) on Soccer Sunday, March 29. The Union begin a stretch of three straight games on national television this Friday when they host undefeated FC Dallas (2-0-0) on UniMas.

Photo to courtesy of @MLS