The Philadelphia Union traveled to Sandy, Utah never in a better position to get their first ever win against Real Salt Lake. The Union had won four straight matches and found themselves in the midst of a six-match unbeaten streak, while Real Salt Lake’s season thus far could best be described as “not great, Bob!” It seemed that the Union could make it five straight wins, but instead they fell into the trap and lost to Real Salt Lake Saturday night 1-0 in what mounted to a largely uninspiring performance outside Andre Blake’s goalkeeping.
Blake was clearly the MVP of the Union tonight, and the only reason the match was even somewhat close down the stretch. He started the match with a couple early saves on future goal-scorer Joao Plata, giving the Union an opportunity to take the lead in the first half.
The Union’s best scoring chance of the match came in the 17th minute. Haris Medunjanin played Fafa Picault over the top for a 1-on-1 chance at RSL keeper Nick Rimando. Picault’s shot was batted by Rimando right back at him, allowing Picault to get a header on goal that appeared to be bound for goal until Aaron Maund made a desperation last-second clearance to keep the ball out of the net. So often plays like that result in either a goal or an own goal, but Maund did well to ensure the ball went way over the bar and away from danger.
Real Salt Lake would not be fazed by that chance though as they continued to pepper Andre Blake with shots. In the 21st minute, Jefferson Savarino played a ball across to Luis Silva who forced an incredible diving save by Blake who parried the ball away for a harmless corner, perhaps his most impressive save of his seven on the evening.
However, Blake could not keep RSL out of the net forever. In the 36th minute, some RSL team build-up led to a give-and-go between Savarino and Plata. Plata stayed onside and buried Savarino’s final pass past a helpless Blake for the first and only goal of the match.
The second half was a mostly dull and drab affair with every little action or opportunities for the Union to equalize. Their best chance at an equalizer came late into stoppage time with a Medunjanin free kick that went through the RSL defense but straight to Rimando who was forced to make a save to preserve the three points for Real Salt Lake.
All in all, a disappointing effort from the Union who entered this match expecting and hoping for better against a team they should have been able to defeat. Up next for the Union is another Saturday road match, this time though it’s a return to the low altitude East Coast for a match at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC.