ORLANDO (Sunday, March 6, 2016) – Real Salt Lake leaves an electric Citrus Bowl with a 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC to kick off the 2016 campaign, but be disappointed in harboring only a point to remain unbeaten in the Claret-and-Cobalt’s last seven MLS season openers on the road. RSL took a 2-0 lead through a pair of goals from FW Joao Plata – one in each half – but conceded a pair of goals in the final 90 seconds to the home side to split the points.
A crowd of 60,147 at the Citrus Bowl – the largest in history to have ever seen RSL perform – thought Orlando had an early lead in the eighth minute through FW Cyle Larin – the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year – but the apparent goal was waved off as the assistant referee raised his flag for offside and the match remained scoreless.
By the 20th minute, Real Salt Lake continued an unfortunate trend from last season, forced to drop down to 10 men as DF Demar Phillips was shown his second early yellow card for a foul at midfield. Despite the disadvantage, RSL got the next scoring chance when FW Yura Movisisyan was sprung out on a break by a long ball over the top from Capt. Kyle Beckerman. MLS returnee Movsisyan was taken down in the box for a penalty after being fouled by DF Sebastian Hines. Plata converted the PK, blasting a shot high and to the left to beat OCSC GK Joe Bendik for his first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
After taking the short-handed lead, RSL was given a reprieve just before halftime when Orlando DF and El Salvador international Darwin Ceren was shown a red card for a harsh challenge against RSL MF Javier Morales, making the match 10v10 for the second half.
With the game opened up on the unpredictable artificial surface at the Citrus Bowl, RSL again capitalized midway through the second half, as Plata scored his second goal of the match in the 66th minute. Following magic from RSL MF Juan Manuel Martinez – known as “Burrito” – DF Tony Beltran got free on the right side of the box and sent a cross past Movsisyan at the near post to find Plata alone at the far post, where the Ecuadoran international thumped it into the net to boost the Utah side to a 2-0 lead.
Buoyed by an acrobatic save in the 84th minute by GK Nick Rimando, RSL seemed poised to depart its first-ever game in Florida with the full three points. However, continued pressure by Orlando on the RSL rearguard broke the Claret-and-Cobalt down deep into second-half stoppage, as long balls out of the back just 40 seconds apart found both Larin and substitute Adrian Winter. Each player buried his chance, as RSL – which allowed 14 goals in the final 15 minutes last season – continued that disturbing trend, the pair allowing Orlando City – missing its Brazilian superstar Kaka, who suffered a thigh strain in training on Friday – to snare a point and erase what had once seemed like a commanding RSL lead.
Real Salt Lake returns home this evening to prepare to host Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in the regular-season home opener. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. MT in Sandy against U.S. internationals Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and Jordan Morris.
GAME NOTES – ORL 2 : 2 RSL – Sunday, March 6, 2016
- The announced crowd of 60,147 was the largest for a match in Real Salt Lake history …
- RSL DF Aaron Maund played the match with a protective helmet after a blow to the head left him with a goose egg in the 1-1 draw against Tigres in CCL play on Wednesday …
- FW Joao Plata’s brace is the first for an RSL player away from home since Plata accomplished the feat back on May 3, 2014, in Chicago … Plata’s multi-goal game – obviously the first of 2016 for an RSL player – is the diminutive Ecuadoran’s 2nd in his 75-game MLS reg. season history on the Wasatch Front …
- The Demar Phillips red card is the second in the Jamaican international’s RSL career, as he was ejected last June at New York Red Bulls … The 20th-minute sending off is the earliest of the 10 red cards RSL has received in 2015/16 …
- RSL’s opener next Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium is one of just four home games in the first 13 of the MLS season, as the club sees five consecutive road matches in May while the Rio Tinto Stadium pitch is resurfaced …
ORLANDO CITY SC 0-2 REAL SALT LAKE
SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2016 CITRUS BOWL
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Orlando City SC 0 2 2
Real Salt Lake 1 1 2
RSL: Joao Plata (PK) 26’
RSL: Joao Plata (Tony Beltran, Juan Manuel Martinez) 66’
ORL: Cyle Larin (Hadji Barry, Brek Shea) 94+
ORL: Adrian Winter (Cyle Larin, Servando Carrasco) 95+
RSL: Demar Phillips (Caution; Foul) 11’
RSL: Demar Phillips (Caution; Foul) 20’
RSL: Demar Phillips (Ejection; Second Caution) 20’
ORL: Pedro Ribeiro (Caution; Foul) 32’
ORL: Darwin Ceren (Ejection; Serious Foul Play) 47+’
RSL: Chris Wingert (Caution; Foul) 73’
ORL: Seb Hines (Caution: Unsporting Behavior) 76’
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Aaron Maund, Demar Phillips; Kyle Beckerman, Sunday Stephen Obayan (Chris Wingert 24’); Juan Manuel Martinez (Olmes Garcia 87’), Javier Morales, Joao Plata (Luke Mulholland 77’); Yura Movsisyan
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Jordan Allen, Justen Glad, Devon Sandoval
Orlando City SC (4-3-2-1): Joe Bendik; Rafael Ramos, Tommy Redding, Seb Hines, Luke Boden (Adrian Winter 61’); Servando Carrasco, Pedro Ribeiro, Darwin Ceren; Kevin Molino (Hadji Barry 77’), Brek Shea; Cyle Larin
Substitutes not used: Earl Edwards, Kevin Alston, Aurelien Collin, Harrison Heath, Richie Laryea
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: C.J. Morgante, Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official: Robert Sibiga
Weather: Clear and 72