CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – The Real Salt Lake U-18 team saw their five match winning streak come to an end when the San Diego Surf scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw on Saturday morning at the Grande Sports Academy. The draw has also ended the Claret-and-Cobalt’s perfect point streak, as this is the first match RSL has dropped points in.
Playing with 10-men for over 70 minutes, due to a straight red card shown to Moises Rodriguez on a tough tackle, RSL were able to capture the lead moments before the halftime break when Niki Jackson broke through the Surf defense on the left side. As he dribbled into the box two Surf defenders left the middle of the box open as they ran over to cut off Jackson. He looked up and chipped a ball over the defenders to a streaking Jose Hernandez who finished with a header.
RSL continued to push the effort in the second half and had multiple opportunities in the final third, but just couldn’t find the right combination that would lead to a second goal. As they pushed the goal seemed to be further and further away, which gave the Surf enough confidence to counter in the 76th-minute and finish a cross-and-volley. The Surf’s confidence hit a high match, which almost propelled to three-points if it was not for goalkeeper Chase Bishov, who ran out and batted a cross down and smothered the ball while diving head first into traffic. Second-half substitute Sam Gleadle had RSL’s final chance when he made a diagonal run to the right-wing. He caught up to the ball and fired a shot for the back post that clipped a Surf’s defenders leg and casually rolled to the goalkeeper for an easy save.
Through six matches the RSL U-18 team is undefeated and leads the Southwest Division with sixteen points.
The opening minutes of the first half went in RSL’s favor as Corey Baird, Brooks Lennon and Jackson abused the Surf defense down the right flank. However, in the 17th-minute RSL played a corner into the box. It was cleared and bounced into empty space. A Surf player sprinted for the ball as got a touch just moments before Rodriguez slide in. Rodriguez clipped the Surf player and was shown a straight red for the challenge.
RSL’s response to playing down a man was almost perfect. Corey Baird became a one-man wrecking crew in the midfield. Jack Gayton provided service from the back and center-back paring, Santi Carrillo and Erik Holt, won everything in the air. The positive play paid off when Jackson and Hernandez connected.
The second half was a mirror image of the first. RSL’s defense was strong and the attack was always with purpose. The best chance to RSL came in the 71st-minute when Damian German dribbled and cut hit was through the Surf defense. He created space for himself on top of the 18 and fired for the back post, but unfortunately pushed the ball a tad too far.
It was a tough result for RSL, who are one of six teams in the nation to remain unbeaten.
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake U-18 Academy 1 0 1
Surf 0 1 1
RSL – Jose Hernandez (assist: Niki Jackson) – 44′
RSL – Surf – 76′
Real Salt Lake: Chase Bishov, Te Wihongi, Santi Carrillo, Erik Holt, Moises Rodriguez, Jack Gayton, Jose Hernandez (Pato Yrizar, 68′), Brooks Lennon (Sam Gleadle, 75′), Corey Baird (Matthias Binder, 85′), Niki Jackson (Eric Carbajal, 68′), Damian German.
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