Real Salt Lake advanced to the Fifth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-1 comeback win over the USL’s Seattle Sounders 2. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, Joao Plata and Javier Morales scored second half goals to complete the comeback.
Javier Morales’ game-winner came in the 71st minute from an indirect kick from the 6-yard box. Joao Plata laid the ball off the Morales to find the opening to the far post on a low slotted shot.
The Sounders took the lead in the closing moments of the first half off of a goal from Sam Garza assisted by Giuliano Frano. As soon as the ball was set for RSL to take the ensuing kickoff, the halftime whistle sounded with S2 having the better of the chances in the opening half. Real Salt Lake had the majority of possession but Sounders 2 looked dangerous on the break as Andy Craven was a menace to defend.
Sam Garza got the goal for Sounders 2 in the 49th minute from an assist from Giuliano Frano from a long throw in. Frano spotted Garza streaking through the midfield to the top of the penalty box taking his first touch past two RSL defenders, then calmly chipping goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to the back post.
The second half was a whole new team for Real Salt Lake. RSL had their entire team on the field five minutes before the scheduled start of second half. They looked ready to fix what needed to be fixed. What was the difference between the first and second half?
“We just played with urgency and passion,” said Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar. “Just wasn’t there the first half. Credit goes to the players for coming out in the second half and somebody stepping up. You have opportunities and you have to cease them. The second half was a lot better than the first.”
Javier Morales was subbed in for Wellington Paeckert in the 58th minute and he immediately changed the game. As soon as he was on the ball he was finding passes to players, especially Plata, to stretch the S2 backline. Morales, who wasn’t in the starting lineup in an effort to rest him for this weekend’s league game, wanted desperately to be involved in the game because he’s 35 years old and doesn’t know how many more games he has left and wants to take advantage of every opportunity.
“I want to play in everything. I want to play in Open Cup, Champions League, everything,” said Morales.
In the 64th minute, Okwonwu played a long ball down the line towards Garcia. Garcia worked hard to beat his defender to the ball, turned the corner and laid the ball off for Plata to finish from the penalty spot. This tied the game and shifted the momentum.
Craven, who was very active for Seattle in the first half, barely touched the ball in the second half.
In the 71st minute a S2 defender smacked a ball backwards and it was picked up by goalkeeper Saif Kerawala. An indirect free kick was awarded and Morales slotted the Plata lay off to the far post on the ground.
There was a lot that happened after the game with Sounders FC 2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson having a go at the officiating crew. He was shown a yellow card and a red being shown to one of the S2 players which is still being determined who that was.
Andy Craven is a really good player. He plays bigger than his 5’11 frame standing at 167 pounds. He was extremely active and created a lot of chances for Seattle Sounders FC 2 in the first half. He used his body well to settle services into his head, chest and to bring down and play on the counter attack. He showed why he was an All-American in Georgia Youth Soccer and why he excelled at North Carolina. It will be fun to see how much he develops over the next 5 years. I am sure that he will score many more goals in the USL and probably eventually in MLS play.
Real Salt Lake has some really great talent. They have been sputtering as of late but it seems as though the mechanic has figured out some of the things that need to be adjusted. There are moments where the engine seems to be running clean, smooth and ready to hit top speed, then something breaks down again. If Real Salt Lake can get fully healthy and grind more results out like this one. They could be a threat late in the competition against other MLS teams and they can make a run into the 8th consecutive playoffs in MLS Competition.
MLS analysts at the start of the season said that RSL would most likely be the ones to struggle on depth. Youngsters Aaron Maund and Phanuel Kavita both stepped in tonight and were solid in the back. Justen Glad took a knock to the head and there were some concerns of concussion, so he was subbed out in the 39th minute.
Joao Plata shows moments of his old self from a year ago. You can see that some of his touches are not as clean and suave as they were in the 2014 campaign. Cassar said that anytime a player is out for 4 months it is going to take a little bit of time when you come back.
“You will have some good, some bad,” said Cassar. “Joao has been working extremely hard. As long as he is staying aggressive, that is a good thing for us.”
FULL MATCH REPLAY: SOUNDERS 2 AT REAL SALT LAKE
Seattle Sounders 2
Real Salt Lake
45+3' · Sam Garza (unassisted)
64' · Joao Plata  71' · Javier Morales (unassisted)