Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press
Chicago Fire forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco celebrates his game-tying goal in stoppage time as Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers walks away.

That's why he's a legend.

Cuauhtemoc Blanco of the Chicago Fire spent the first 91 minutes of his team's season-opener against Real Salt Lake feeling frustrated.

Virtually nothing went his way — from not getting the ball in dangerous positions to not getting decisions from the referee — and he was frequently left to gaze up from the Rice-Eccles Stadium turf with his arms raised skyward.

But the 92nd minute was a different proposition.

When RSL central backs Nat Borchers and Matias Mantilla, stellar up to that point, failed to cut out a Chicago cross from the right side, the ball fell to Blanco just inside the 18-yard box. He looked up and sent an unstoppable swerving shot past Real 'keeper Nick Rimando and into the net.

Blanco's super stoppage-time strike lifted Chicago to a 1-1 draw with RSL Saturday afternoon and proved once again — as if anybody needed any more evidence — that the 35-year-old Mexican International is truly a superstar.

"What can you say about a guy like that?" Chicago central defender Diego Gutierrez asked afterward. "He's played I don't know how many games in high pressure — World Cups, World Cup qualifiers with packed houses. So he's used to that type of attention, that type of pressure and is a guy that relishes being in that spot."

Blanco, as he's done on so many previous occasions, left little doubt about that. With one fantastic swing of his leg, he single-handedly saved his side from defeat and heaped more opening-day misery on Real Salt Lake.

"Helluva finish. Helluva finish," said Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch. "Nothing Nick can do at the other end. You feel a little bad for him because he didn't have much to do, and then Cuauhtemoc uncorks one like that."

Blanco scored on a laser beam from distance against RSL at Rice-Eccles Stadium a season ago, and Busch jokingly suggested that perhaps this stadium is simply the site for Blanco to work some of his magic.

"Maybe this is the place for Cuauhtemoc ... if you think back to ... his bomb last year," said Busch. "I think he closed his eyes on that one, but this year, he gets it and he bends it around him — great finish by a class player."

RSL coach Jason Kreis quickly acknowledged the quality of Blanco's goal afterward but was less than impressed with some of his theatrics before that. But with Blanco, all of it is included in the cost of admission.

"At the end, it's a special player takes a special goal," said Kreis. "It wasn't about a breakdown on our part or a bad mistake in our penalty box. It was a special player makes one special play, because I don't think he did anything else the whole game except run around and whine."

E-mail: [email protected]