SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake has beaten Minnesota United on the road in the season opener 2-1. It was also the first victory at Allianz Field for RSL.
“I am so happy for the guys,” Manager Freddy Juarez said after the game. It was a tough, physical battle and I am proud of how our guys hung in there and stuck it out” he added.
RSL entered the game well rested after enduring a bye week during the opening MLS weekend, while Seattle was coming off a 4-0 bashing on the road against Seattle Sounders. RSL opted to start four homegrown players in Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, David Ochoa, and Donny Toia.
It was the 12th consecutive season in which RSL secured at least a point following the first game for RSL.
First Half Brace
The game began with Minnesota dominating the possession and utilizing home-field advantage by controlling the game. But as the first half went on, RSL settled and began to play themselves into the contest.
Then, after a turnover deep in RSL’s half, Rubio Rubin was flying up the pitch alongside three of his teammates. Rubin was eventually fouled but the advantage was played by the referee and Anderson Julio opened up his account as an RSL man to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, and right before the halftime whistle, Rubin found space up the right flank, he casually played the ball along the ground into the box and Julio tapped in his second.
It was the first brace for an RSL player on debut since Robbie Findley did it in 2007.
RSL went into the lockerroom up 2-0.
Second Half Heroics
The second half was fiery and tough. Minnesota threw everything at RSL and RSL hung in there.
Unfortunately, in the 85th minute, RSL conceded a late goal after Robin Lod hit a half volley past David Ochoa and made the final 10 minutes very nerve-wracking.
RSL continued to defend and battle. Ultimately, the final whistle blew and RSL secured three points in their opening game of the 2021 MLS season.
“Fight, fight, and fight. We fully deserved the three points,” Damir Kreilach said following the conclusion of the game. “I saw from the first day that they were going to be great additions to us,” Kreilach added when asked about the additions of Anderson Julio and Rubio Rubin.
Welcome David Ochoa
David Ochoa has been known to stir the pot and that he did, again, against Minnesota. As the game came to a close, Ochoa was hit in the back and went down in need of medical attention much to the displeasure of the home crowd. A similar incident occurred shortly thereafter and Ochoa started to hear more choice words from the nearby fans.
When the final whistle blew, Ochoa kicked the ball into the crowd and ruffled the feathers of Minnesota United players. A minor brawl broke out following the conclusion of the game. Players from both sides were animated and upset with one and another.
“He’s got some edge on him for a kid who’s not that good,” Minnesota United Manager Adrian Heath said in a postgame interview.
Next week, RSL will host Sporting Kansas City in the home opener on Saturday, May 1st with kickoff scheduled for noon.