Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Full Recap of RSL/Espanyol 3-3 Draw

MF Saldana Leads RSL with Pair of Second Half Strikes, Including an 83rd Minute Equalizer to Secure Result

SAN SEBASTIAN DE LOS REYES, Spain (Wednesday, June 3, 2009) – Midfielder Adrian Saldana carried his Real Salt Lake’s Under-18 squad to yet another heart-pounding draw in the Mundial de Clubes de Futbol Sub-18. Saldana tallied a pair of goals which, coupled with a strike from FW Danny Mwanga, helped RSL rally from two second half deficits against Espanyol U-18s at the Estadio Municipal Matapi├▒oneras in San Sebastian de los Reyes, Spain.

Facing long odds against a European powerhouse for the second time in two days and sporting a Starting XI that featured eight new players from Monday's match, it seemed RSL would need another magical performance to even entertain the thought of a result.

After an opening 45 minutes that saw the Salt Lake side down 1-0 - and having seen no less than three balls strike their post - it appeared they may have used up all of their magic in the opener. That was until they emerged from the locker room after a halftime break.

Hitting the pitch with a newfound spirit - and two pairs of fresh legs up top in strikers Danny Mwanga and James Rogers - RSL put Espanyol on their heels from the get go. Just three minutes out of the locker room, it was Rogers that earned the first dangerous chance for RSL. Chasing a through-ball down up the middle of the pitch, the speedy striker was taken down about 25 yards from goal.

Lining up the resultant free kick, RSL number 10 Adrian Saldana ripped a right-footed blast at goal, only to see the ball ricochet off the Espanyol wall. Determined to make his mark, Saldana tracked the rebound down and slotted a sliding, left-footed shot just inside the left post to bring his team level.

The goal proved to be just the beginning.

Less than four minutes later, Real snagged their first lead. This time Rogers found himself with the ball just on his side of the midfield stripe and time to survey the field. Spotting a streaking Mwanga, the 16-year-old high school sophomore delivered a perfectly weighted pass that found his teammate in stride. Alone on goal, Mwanga calmly drew the keeper out, beat him on the dribble and slid the ball home for the 2-1 scoreline.