SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake represented Major League Soccer quite well in a hard fought 2-1 exhibition loss to English Premiere League power Manchester United Monday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Luis Silva gave RSL an early 1-0 lead with a goal in the 23rd minute sending the sold out crowd into a frenzy.
But Man United quickly leveled the match in the 29th minute on a goal by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
After Real subbed out all 11 starters in the 30th minute, Manchester United took the lead in the 38th minute as Romelu Lukaku pulled RSL backup goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez out of the net and scored the go-ahead goal.
Both teams had chances in the second half, but neither could find the back of the net. RSL’s last attempt to earn a draw was off of a shot by Kyle Curinga, but Manchester goalkeeper Sergio Romero make a sprawling save near the corner of the net to preserve the victory.
“It was fun,” said Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman. “I thought we did well. I thought the guys we wanted to get on the ball, like Albert and Savarino and Plata, and scored a really nice goal. It’s funny because before the game a lot of guys and our coaching staff’s message was about go enjoy yourself. I think after warmups, I thought forget about enjoying yourself, let’s try to win this thing. We might never play Manchester United here again. So it’s a big opportunity.”
“I grew up with Manchester City,” said RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak. “So for me that was the big club in Manchester, but I know how big and how great Manchester United is. So. it’s not just a great experience for me, but for the whole team.”
“Very pleased with the whole 90 minutes,” said head coach Mike Petke. “If you break it down into the substitution brackets that we had the first 30 minutes I was very impressed.”
As for Manchester United, they left Rio Tinto Stadium impressed with the way RSL played.
“I really like the way they played,” said Man United head coach Jose Morinho. “I just feel sorry that they have a game on Wednesday. Because of that they couldn’t play the whole game with the best team. I repeat in the second half, younger people, less quality, more enthusiasm, more running, more difficult for us to play.”
RSL now returns to MLS play Wednesday night at Portland hoping to get back in the playoff hunt.