Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer and Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva battle during the first half. (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
SANDY, Utah — The Red Bulls almost an opportunity to celebrate a victory at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
But Damir Kreilach headed home an Aaron Herrera cross a minute into stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Real Salt Lake.
Until then Cristian Cásseres Jr.’s goal, superb goalkeeping by David Jensen and some timely blocks by the defense kept Red Bulls afloat even though they were outplayed by RSL.
The Red Bulls’ winless streak increased to nine games (0-6-3) at the stadium. They did emerge victorious after recording a victory over RSL during the MLS Western Conference playoff semifinals in 2008.
“It’s a tough game,” Red Bulls center back Amro Tarek said. “We knew before the game it’s tough to play here in Salt Lake. I think it’s good that we have a point, it’s kind of frustrating because we conceded a goal in the last few minutes, but it’s good to have a point.”
After last Sunday’s 3-2 season-opening win over FC Cincinnati at home, Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas decided to keep the same Starting XI.
Jensen kept the hosts off the scoreboard with a spectacular save in the 11th minute, extending his left arm to deny Damir Kreilach.
About a minute later, his RSL counterpart Zach MacMath could not do the same on a long-distance strike by Cásseres. Cásseres powered a 35-yard shot from the left side, one bounce past MacMath to give New York a 1-0 edge.
“Cristian, he’s a ball winner and you know at altitude the ball flies, so he drove with the ball, took his chance well, shot it hard and shot it well,” Armas said. “Yeah, it’s great that he gets rewarded for that — it was a big goal for us.”
RSL dominated the rest of the half in possession and shots but could not find the range as captain Sean Davis cleared a Marcelo Silva shot off the line in the 36th minute.
Jensen was up to the task again in the 49th minute, denying Nedum Onuoha from point-blank range.
“I think that David was a presence in goal, made a couple of really big stops for sure — when he pulled out of the upper corner,” Armas said. “Yeah his distribution and communication and leadership was also impressive, so we thought he’s had a couple of good games now.”
The Red Bulls dodged a major bullet in the 70th minute when second-half Douglas Martinez, Jr.’s goal was nullified after a beautiful build-up by RSL. Martinez was ruled to be offside, allowing the visitors to breath a bit easier – until Kreilach struck for his dramatic equalizer.
“We could have fought a bit more to the end,” Tarek said. “It was still close. It would have been better if we had gotten the three points, six points out of two games and an away game would be amazing.”hat
Asked what lessons the team learned from this game, Jensen replied, “We cannot take anything for granted. We have to work our asses off the whole 90 minutes and we did — and we got a point. If we do that, it doesn’t matter if it was an away game or a home game if we do that every single time, then we can look at ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘OK, guys, this was a good job today.’ ”