RSL needs late flurry to beat 10-man Rapids 3-0

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (10) goes for the ball during the team's MLS soccer match against the Colorado Rapids in Sandy, Utah, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

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ANDY — Joao Plata scored on a penalty kick in the 82nd minute, Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak added goals and Real Salt Lake beat the Colorado Rapids 3-0 on Saturday night.

Colorado held Real Salt Lake scoreless for over 60 minutes while down a man until referee Joseph Dickerson charged Colorado's Tommy Smith with a hand ball in the area after a video review. Plata converted with a low hard shot to the left to open the scoring for RSL (3-3-1).

“I think Damir is playing fine,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “He's going through what a lot of people coming over from a foreign league go through. It takes time to adjust to this league, to everything, to the culture, the travel, different style of play. I don't think we've seen anything close to the best of Damir yet.”

What did Kreilach think of his first goal for RSL?

“I'm very happy about my first goal, but we need to keep fighting and concentrate for the next game against Vancouver,” Kreilach said. “Today was a great night and in the end we deserved this win.”

Kreilach settled Rusnak's pass and bent a shot around defender Axel Sjoberg to double the lead in the 89th. Rusnak capped the scoring on a free kick in the 92nd.

“It was a bit of confidence and we had a great week of training,” Petke said. “We really focused on off ball movement and keeping the ball.”

Rapids (2-2-2) goalkeeper Tim Howard was sent off in the 20th minute for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity with a hand ball outside the area. Howard was well beyond the 18-yard box when he challenged RSL's Jefferson Savarino on a breakaway and blocked Savarino's shot with his left arm extended.

Utah Royals draw

CARY, N.C. — Utah Royals FC (0-1-3) staged a dramatic comeback, but conceded a late goal and settled for a 2-2 draw with the North Carolina Courage on Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium.

Forwards Katie Stengel and Brittany Ratcliffe scored their first goals of the season for the Royals after Utah fell behind in the opening minutes of the match.

Crystal Dunn scored in the 80th minute to force the draw.

North Carolina controlled the match in the first half and scored on its only first-half shot on goal. In the sixth minute, Merritt Mathias bombed a first-time shot from 25 yards out to find the top corner.

Utah’s first shot didn’t come until the 37th minute when defender Kelley O’Hara made an overlapping run to get a shot on goal, but it was saved without much threat.

The second half saw a turnaround for Utah as it took advantage of two misplayed balls from North Carolina to pounce on the lead. In the 52nd minute, Stengel outhustled the opposition and beat defender Abby Dahlkemper to head home a loose ball in front of net to equalize.

Then Utah snagged the lead when Ratcliffe rocketed a shot from just outside the box after a missed clearance, finding the net for her first goal of the season for a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute.

North Carolina pressured a ball played to keeper Abby Smith in the 80th minute, though, and her clearance took a bad hop and fell into the path of Dunn who deflected into the net for the final 2-2 score line.

The Royals FC returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first of four consecutive home matches, beginning with the Portland Thorns on Saturday, April 28.

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