Real Salt Lake (1-1-0, 3 points, T-2 in West) dropped its match at D.C. United (1-1-0, 3 points, T-1 in East) on Saturday night, conceding a 60th minute goal to fall 0-1 at RFK Stadium.
RSL has never won at D.C., with Saturday’s result moving the team to 0-6-3 across all competitions in the nation’s capital. Now 1-1-0 on the year, the Claret-and-Cobalt will take on the Colorado Rapids next Saturday, March 16 in the team’s home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Saturday’s match started rather slowly, with the game’s first opportunity not coming until the 25th minute. D.C. FW Chris Pontius started the play, crossing from the left side to the back post where MF Nick DeLeon to hit his six-yard header just wide of the net.
RSL had its best chance of the first half in the 30th minute. FW Robbie Findley hit a cross from the left side that looked destined for the head of open FW Alvaro Saborio at the back post, but D.C. GK Bill Hamid had other ideas, getting a fingertip to the ball to put it out of danger.
RSL GK Nick Rimando made a big play of his own in the 32nd minute. Pontius ran onto FW Lionard Pajoy’s through ball in the left side of the area, ripping a 12-yarder toward the near post that a diving Rimando parried away.
Real Salt Lake had a half chance in the 35th minute, when MF Luis Gil headed a DF Tony Beltran cross into the hands of Hamid.
The game slowed down after that, with neither side registering an opportunity until Pajoy put D.C. ahead in the 60th minute. D.C. MF John Thorrington started the play, collecting a loose corner kick outside the area and lifting a shot toward the top-left-corner that Rimando palmed away with a diving stop. Pajoy – kept onside by RSL MF Sebastian Velasquez – pounced on the rebound, heading the ball home from close-range.
The Claret-and-Cobalt nearly equalized in the 74th minute. Gil played MF Khari Stephenson in on the left side of the box, with the Jamaican attacker curling a shot toward the top-left-corner that Hamid held.
RSL’s other Jamaican – substitute DF Lovel Palmer – had a good look at goal in the 83rd minute, hitting a shot just wide of the left post from 30 yards out.
That was about it for the Claret-and-Cobalt, which didn’t register another good chance for the rest of the match.
D.C. did have another opportunity, nearly doubling its advantage through substitute FW Carlos Ruiz in the 94th minute. Rimando made a great stop to keep the Guatemalan international’s shot out, blocking Ruiz’s point blank effort with an acrobatic save.