Colorado Rapids fall to Real Salt Lake on the road

By Rio Tinto, The Salt Lake Tribune

Sandy, Utah — With Colorado defender Eric Miller tight on him, Real Salt Lake winger Joao Plata beat goalkeeper Tim Howard at the near post, then celebrated with a shimmy and low fist pump.

After 40 minutes of trying to get past a packed-in Rapids defense, RSL succeeded late in the first half, then broke open a tight finish with two goals in extra time for a 4-1 win over Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Cup game on Saturday.

Howard made four saves in the first half as RSL took 17 shots, with only Plata breaching the Colorado defense on his seventh goal of the season.

The first goal changed things “completely,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “And that’s why we’ve really been preaching, we need to finish at least one chance early on because teams do come in and sit in. It just opens the game up so much more, and that’s when we’re at our best. But in the last two games now we’ve had teams sit in on us and we’ve found a way.”

RSL took a 2-0 lead early in the second half after Plata gave up a chance to take a penalty kick. Jefferson Savarino was fouled in the box in the 49th minute, but Plata — RSL’s regular PK taker — yielded to Luis Silva, who shot right as Howard dove to his left.

“I told him I wanted to take it,” Silva said, “and he respects that. I’ve known him since 2012. We get along really well. But, I told him I owe him dinner for that.”

Silva became just the second RSL player in club history to score in four straight league matches. Jeff Cunningham (2006) was the only other player to do so.

Silva scored his second goal of the game in injury time, converting a long ball from Brooks Lennon — who added a goal of his own later in the six minutes of injury time.

Colorado had cut the lead to 2-1 in the 82nd minute when Micheal Azira sent a ball over the top of RSL’s back line to connect with Joshua Gatt for a header. Gatt was called offside on the field, but after video review, the call was overturned.

“It’s a great feeling,” Gatt said. “It’s always great to score a goal, and to have your first in MLS is a fantastic feeling. But it’s a bitter-sweet feeling. Again, I wanted to come away with a win, with a goal and a win.”

Both teams finished the match with 10 men. RSL’s Danilo Acosta received a red card for a tackle from behind in the 57th minute, and Colorado forward Alan Gordon was ejected in the 77th minute after his second yellow card.

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