Soccer

Plata scores late as Real Salt Lake deny Whitecaps victory

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The Canadian Press
7/20/2014 12:41:33 AM
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SANDY, Utah -- Circle Sept. 27 on the calendar, for it's Round 3 of what has become Major League Soccer's newest rivalry.

That's the date Real Salt Lake visits BC Place, and it's the night the Vancouver Whitecaps will surely look forward to after Saturday's 1-1 draw in the teams' second memorable matchup this season.

A questionable foul led to a Darren Mattocks goal for Vancouver and set off a 30-minute flurry that saw both teams go nose-to-nose and force action from end-to-end.

"Real Salt Lake might be a new rival of ours," Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said with a smile. "We've got a small team, but they're willing to fight for the jersey and the camaraderie and the spirit they've got is fantastic."

In the teams' first meeting Apr. 26, Vancouver erased a 2-0 deficit with two goals in the final eight minutes to stun the MLS Cup runner-up. Saturday, tempers were hotter than the hot desert air.

A hard tackle on Mattocks by RSL's Nat Borchers led to a penalty kick and the game's first goal in the 73rd minute. It was Mattocks' second penalty kick goal of the Whitecaps' road trip and his third goal this season.

"That's up to the referee to make the decision whether to give the PK or not," said Mattocks. "It's my job to help the team win games."

A scrum broke out at midfield after the goal, and resulted in yellow cards for Sebastian Fernandez and Matias Laba. Goalkeeper David Ousted drew a yellow card moments later after he argued for a more severe penalty on RSL defender Tony Beltran after a hard foul on Fernandez.

"It's a tough place to play," said Ousted, who recorded three saves. "They are a good team, and we need to be smart about it. I think we got under their skin a bit and it creates drama.

"We showed we'll stick up for each other. That's the way it's supposed to be for a team. Normally, I like when we can get away from the fights and not get into them, but we'll stick up for each other."

The lead was short-lived, though, and this time it was the home team with some late magic to draw even. Joao Plata sprinted past Steven Beitashour toward the left corner, then fired low to the far post, out of Ousted's reach in the 81st minute.

It was Salt Lake's first open goal (non-set piece) in more than 400 minutes.

"We couldn't let them dictate too much of the game," said Ousted. "I thought we did really well. If we had been a little bit luckier, we might have gotten away with three points, but we weren't. 1-1 is probably a fair result."

The teams exchanged chances into stoppage time, with Salt Lake twice nearly pulling out the victory. Luke Mulholland's bicycle kick sailed over the crossbar in the 83rd minute, and Ousted collided with a rushing Robbie Findlay in stoppage time to thwart a fast-break chance.

Vancouver earned a point for the fifth time in its past six road matches. Real Salt Lake fell to 1-4-2 after starting the season unbeaten in its first 12 matches.

Robinson mixed up his starting lineup to get fresh legs in against an attacking RSL front, and for a team playing its second road game in four days. Omar Salgado and Medhi Ballouchy earned their first starts of the season and Erik Hurtado and Russell Teibert earned some well-deserved rest.

The Whitecaps now have a full week off before hosting FC Dallas on July 27.

Joao Plata (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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