SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Real Salt Lake was one of numerous MLS victims in the Third Round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tonight, falling at home to the NASL Minnesota Stars FC by a 1-3 scoreline in front of a record crowd of 17,212 – the biggest non-Final, non-doubleheader in Open Cup history. The loss dropped RSL to 54-9-17 in the 80 home games across all competitions since the beginning of the 2008 season, Jason Kreis’ first full campaign at the helm.
RSL went down early, allowing a Minnesota goal in the third minute. A long free kick from the near touchline was sent into the box, where it was cleared by RSL GK Kyle Reynish, but not out of danger. The bouncing ball in the mixer was finally controlled 10 yards out by Stars MF Kevin Venegas, whose looping header went over the outstretched arm of an extended Reynish but under the bar to shock the still-arriving crowd.
The Claret-and-Cobalt allowed last year’s NASL champions to dictate the pace of the game for another 15 minutes, Reynish saving a fine effort from distance by Stars DF Brian Kallman. RSL then knocked on the door for a 20-minute period in the middle of the first half, unable to crack Minnesota GK Matt VanOekel until 18-year old MF Luis Gil took a pass from Ned Grabavoy, firing a laser to the lower left corner to breathe some life into the RSL attack.
View a photo slideshow of the Real Salt Lake vs Minnesota Stars FC upset
VanOekel came up huge with back-to-back saves in the 38th minute to keep the game level at 1-1. RSL FW Paulo Junior was in alone on the ‘keeper, who parried the Brazilian’s shot wide to the RSL attack’s right, where an awaiting Grabavoy one-timed a rocket at the goalmouth, only to see the Stars GK tip the ball over the bar.
Shortly before halftime, a long clearance out of the Minnesota defense found fleet-footed FW Amani Walker in the clear, where he was tracked down by RSL DF Jamison Olave. Walker’s cross into the box hit Olave’s arm as it was nestled next to his body, but the penalty kick was awarded in the 45th minute to the visitors. The chance from the spot was slammed home by Neil Hlavaty to give Minnesota a 2-1 halftime lead.
In the second half, Minnesota made its biggest chance count, as MF Simone Bracalello poked home a long Kallman service from outside the area to essentially ice the game. RSL saw numerous chances in the second 45, with Paulo, Emiliano Bonfigli, Olave and DF Nat Borchers each seeing opportunities to narrow the gap go wanting. Despite outshooting the Stars 21-14 on the night and having a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks, RSL could not force extra time and saw its hopes for hoisting the oldest trophy in U.S. Soccer thwarted, just as they began.