Real Salt Lake took a break from MLS action and celebrated Pioneer Day with a not-so-friendly visit from Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa, Costa Rica’s premier soccer club. After a strong showing early by RSL, Saprissa showed its dominance in the second half as they pulled away with a 2-1 victory.
A ball off the post on a Robbie Findley header was as close as RSL came to the back of the net, while a ball lifted just out of the reach of Real goalkeeper Kyle Reynish by Ronald Gomez gave Saprissa a 1-0 lead early in the second half. Not more than ten minutes later Saprissa got on the board again when Armando Alonso pulled Reynish out of the six-yard box only to blast the ball into the net to solidify the win.
The international friendly turned very unfriendly in the 81st minute when a fight broke out and red cards were handed out to each team.
“The game got pretty heated out there,” said RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “That’s something you don’t want to see in a friendly.”
However, despite the loss RSL was able to benefit from its exhibition. Several young players were able to get much-needed minutes while regular starters were able to get some rest.
“I think overall it was a better game for us (compared to the other friendly against Santos). I thought we created a lot more than we did in that match, and some of our younger players had a better game tonight than they did against Santos,” RSL coach Jason Kries said. “There were some good signs out there.”
With time running out and Real Salt Lake starting a 2-0 deficit in the face, RSL defender Chris Wingert knocked a ball by Saprissa goalkeeper Keylor Navas to close the gap to 2-1. Already deep into stoppage time the game ended before RSL could mount a comeback.
“I thought everybody worked hard, and we played the best we could,” Beckerman said. “We had some good things at times, but they were a great team that plays good soccer.”