CARSON, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – With one game left in the regular season, Real Salt Lake still has a shot to make the MLS playoffs. But they will need some help.
Sergio Cordova scored a goal in the 25th minute for RSL, while Douglas Costa converted a penalty kick in the 68th for the L.A. Galaxy as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake (11-11-11) is still one point behind Portland for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and will need to beat the Timbers next Sunday at home to make the postseason. If RSL loses or draws against Portland, their season will come to an end.
With the draw, the Galaxy (13-12-8) clinched a playoff spot.
“Obviously, it was a bit of a rollercoaster,” said RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “The guys played their hearts out, played some great stuff. We’re right where we want to be. It’s these external forces that come into the game and really change the game on its head, it’s really bizarre. But as far as our performance tonight, I couldn’t be more proud of the guys, the way they executed everything.”
Despite controlling the opening minutes, it was Galaxy who earned the first real opportunity of the match, but a kick-save from goalkeeper Zac MacMath in the eighth minute prevented Julian Araujo from tucking the ball into the far post.
The Galaxy were awarded its second opportunity in the 15th minute when Riqui Puig was fouled by midfielder Scott Caldwell inside the 18-yard-box, setting up a penalty kick. Puig’s penalty shot attempt was kept out thanks to a diving save from MacMath, keeping the game scoreless.
The penalty kick save saw the momentum switch back to Real Salt Lake, pressing towards goal. In the 25th minute defender Aaron Herrera sent in a cross to the head of Sergio Cordova who easily flicked the ball past goalkeeper Jonathan Bond to take the 1-0 lead. As the first half wore on, the two sides traded opportunities back and forth, but six first-half saves from MacMath preserved the scoreline, giving RSL the 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
“We did some scouting beforehand, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of tendencies for their top penalty takers,” MacMath said. “At that point of the game, you’re running on adrenaline and hoping to get something to it. Thankfully, I got two good paws to it.”
In the 68th minute, the Galaxy found the equalizer after being awarded a second penalty kick. The referee Kevin Stott originally called it a foul on Galaxy’s Javier Hernandez, but upon video review the call was reversed for a foul on Marcelo Silva, and Douglas Costa’s penalty goal knotted the match at 1-1.
Real Salt Lake has a couple of golden opportunities to score the go-ahead goal, but Justen Glad was unable to convert on two close range chances, and RSL had to settle for the draw.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t find the second goal, but I believe the team put themselves into positions to score the second goal,” Mastroeni said. “Of course, now the reality is we have to win this weekend and hope that other results fall in our favor.”
“Obviously, it’s devastating not only for [Glad] but for us,” MacMath said. “All year long, we’ve picked each other up through thick and thin. It’s going to sting for a couple of days, but what matters is getting his head right and everyone’s head right by next Sunday.”
Real Salt Lake hosts Portland next Sunday at America First Field at 3:00 p.m.