SANDY — Real Salt Lake entered its match against FC Dallas on Saturday with an opportunity to clinch its sixth straight MLS Cup playoff berth. Quickly, however, RSL's focus shifted to simply trying to get anything out of the contest.
Seventeen minutes into the first half, RSL's Abdoulie Mansally was issued a red card for an ill-advised tackle on Jackson Goncalves after FC Dallas (10-10-11) attempted to create an offensive attack from its own end.
“That’s an ejection. I don’t have any issue with it,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “I thought it was a really rash tackle that was poorly timed. It really endangers the safety of your opponent.
"That’s a red card for me, and I’ve got no issue with it.”
Playing short-handed, RSL (15-10-7) took a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute after Alvaro Saborio fought off Stephen Keel on a 50-50 ball and pocketed a laser in the left corner past Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz. However, FC Dallas responded in the 72nd minute on Kenny Cooper’s goal after RSL ‘keeper Nick Rimando committed to defend Je-Vaughn Watson, ending the tilt in a 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“I don’t think you could ever remember me in good spirits when we’ve drawn at home. Usually that’s a failure in my eyes, and there’s no other way to look at it,” Kreis said. “But, when you go down a man — I mean what else can I say? A draw, sometimes, is good enough, and it was definitely good enough tonight.
“You get one point — that’s fantastic. You get anything more that’s icing on the cake.”
Mansally’s ejection was RSL's first red card at home since Sept. 28, 2011 in a 3-0 setback against Chicago. Mansally will serve his minimum one-game suspension against Portland on Oct. 19, along with Javier Morales, whose yellow card in the 69th minute earned an accumulation suspension.
“These guys are such good character guys that they don’t hide from something like that,” Kreis said of Mansally. “You come into the locker room and the first thing he’s doing is apologizing to all his teammates. We all make mistakes and it was an honest mistake. He was just trying to make an aggressive play. Credit to him for taking responsibility.”
RSL’s record in short-handed games improved to 1-2-3. Expectedly, FC Dallas topped RSL in shots on goal (10-6). In the 34th it had an appetizing look at the net in the midst of a two-on-none fast break, but Rimando instinctively played the high-target from Jackson to preserve the 0-0 score.
Kreis believes the adversity of the match could prove beneficial over time.
“I thought to myself, ‘This could be a really good thing,’” he said. “We’ve been under so much pressure to create attacking chances and score goals, that maybe now it’d give us a chance to work hard and stay together.”