MINNEAPOLIS (ABC4 Sports) – After a lackluster 60 minutes, Real Salt Lake kicked it in gear, but came up a goal short at Minnesota United FC Sunday night, 3-2.
Minnesota dominated most of the game, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Emmanuel Reynoso in the 9th minute, who beat Zac MacMath for the far corner of the net.
RSL defender Aaron Herrera then committed a foul on a hard tackle in the box in stoppage time of the first half. MacMath saved Reynoso’s subsequent penalty kick, but the ball bounced right back to Reynoso for the brace, as Minnesota took a 2-0 halftime lead.
Minnesota then extended the lead to 3-0 in the 61st when Luis Amarilla scored on a breakaway, chipping the ball over MacMath for a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But after making some key substitutions, Pablo Mastroeni’s club came alive.
“We kept pushing,” said defender Johan Kappelhoff. “We kept believing. We weren’t as sharp as normal but in the second half we just gave our fighting spirit and tried to get back. We did a good job in [getting back], but we weren’t as sharp as usual.”
Jefferson Savarino buried Mikael Chang’s crossing pass in the 71st minute to cut the deficit to 3-1. For Savarino, it was his second goal since coming back to RSL from Brazil.
Then just five minutes later, Anderson Julio, who had just checked into the game, scored on a header off a corner kick from Savarino to make it a 3-2 game.
But RSL could not muster up the tying goal and had to settle for a hard-fought loss.
“It’s those little moments where we let ourselves down and didn’t do well enough in moments where we had good chances,” said Mastroeni. “When we went to the three, we started looking long, looking forward to things we had been talking about all week. It was a poor first half, but the mentality of the second half is who we are as a group and it’s what we need to build on next week.”
Real Salt Lake (8-5-5-) falls back to third place in the Western Conference. They will next host Colorado Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
“We’re going up against a team we know really well, so that should be motivation enough,” Mastroeni said. “The most important thing is to remember that the mindset when you go down a goal is to make sure it’s not two.”