CHICAGO (ABC4 Sports) – After a 3-week MLS break, Real Salt Lake did not get off to a great start against the Chicago Fire, but finished strong to earn a point on the road in a 1-1 draw.
Chicago struck early when Alexsander Katai scored on a free kick in the 5th minute to give the Fire an early 1-0 lead.
But RSL found the equalizer in the 33rd minute after Mohammed Adams was called for a hand ball in the box, setting up a penalty kick by Albert Rusnak, who booted home his team-leading 6th goal of the season to level the match at one going in the half
The free kick was set up when Mohammed Adams was called for a hand ball in the penalty area, setting up Rusnak’s blast into the center of the net.
“It was a tough one to give up early on with the free kick,” head coach Mike Petke said. “Nicky was obviously screened and it was a cheeky put away. We had some success in the final third, maybe a few too many touches here and there, but a well-earned gritty point with some pretty quality play.”
“It’s a hard fought point on the road,” Rusnak said. “We appreciate every point we can get on the road. Our objective was to get three, but if you can’t get three, you take one point. We know we’re going to go home now, and it will be crucial for us to take all the home points.’
Chicago put just two shots on frame, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando made a big save in the 89th minute to preserve the draw.
“The guys had a gutsy performance,’ Rimando said. “To come back, get a goal to to tie it up, I thought we controlled the game. So, it feels good to at least get a point after three game road streak.”
Each team had 7 total shots, with each team putting two on frame.
The game ended on a bit of a controversial call when the referee denied RSL a corner kick on what would have been the final sequence of the match.
“How is [the refereed] stopping the game on that corner kick?” Rusnak said. “We weren’t trying to waste time, I ran to the corner. It’s a matter of ten seconds, but he decided to call the game.”
RSL, which has been outscored 8-1 in its last three MLS games, goes to 6-8-2 on the season. They remain above the playoff line in the Western Conference in 7th place with 20 points, one point ahead of San Jose and Vancouver.
Real now plays four of its next five games at Rio Tinto Stadium beginning next Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.