Jamison Olave’s stunning volley in Costa Rica was the shot heard round the North American soccer world on Tuesday night as it helped secure Real Salt Lake’s passage into the CONCACAF Champions League final. It’s definitely one of the most memorable goals in team history, but where does it rank all time?
With 25,287 fans packed into Rice-Eccles Stadium for Real Salt Lake’s first home match in franchise history back in 2005, there was a growing fear inside the stadium that the sellout crowd would be heading home disappointed. That all changed in the 81st minute when Brian Dunseth scored on a diving header to lift RSL to a 1-0 victory over Colorado.
When Clint Mathis scored against his ex-mates to put New York ahead 3-1 in the 83rd minute back on May 6, 2007, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it looked as if coach Jason Kreis’ debut as a head coach would end in disappointment. The unlikeliest of players, Chris Brown, came to the rescue with an equalizer in stoppage time that helped Kreis earn the 3-3 draw in his debut while coaching against Bruce Arena.
Jason Kreis wanted his 100th goal to be something special, and indeed it was back in August 2005. He became the first MLS player in history to reach 100 career goals with a wonderful left-footed volley from 24 yards out that sailed into the upper right-hand corner of the net. “Had to be one of the best goals I’ve ever taken in this league,” said Kreis.
RSL rival Colorado was seconds away from a stunning victory at Rio Tinto Stadium late in the 2010 season, but that all changed on a dramatic 93rd minute header from Nat Borchers. The goal salvaged a 1-1 draw for RSL, but just as important it extended the team’s home unbeaten streak to 24 straight. That streak now stands at 26, and ironically enough RSL’s next home game is slated for next week against Colorado.
Thousands of miles from home last September, all Real Salt Lake needed was a draw to clinch a quarterfinal spot in the CONCACAF Champions League in early 2011. A loss would’ve left qualification up for grabs heading into the final group game against Cruz Azul, something RSL desperately wanted to avoid. Second-half substitute Javier Morales helped RSL earn the 1-1 draw on a wonderful free kick goal in the 68th minute (photo unavailable).
In the first playoff game in franchise history in 2008, Real Salt Lake kept its supporters on edge for 90 minutes. Yura Movsisyan eventually sent them into pandemonium with a clever backheel goal in the 90th minute that gave RSL a 1-0 lead after the first leg of the two-game Western Conference semifinal. RSL earned a 2-2 tie in the second leg to advance past Chivas USA.
Underdog Real Salt Lake found itself in a major hole in its 2009 playoff series against the best team in MLS. Holding a 1-0 aggregate lead heading into Game 2 in Columbus, RSL coughed it up in just 35 minutes, conceding a pair of bad goals to the Crew. A comeback seemed unlikely for a team that won twice on the road all year. Javier Morales swung momentum back in RSL’s favor by knocking in a Kyle Beckerman through ball to level the aggregate score at 2-2. RSL scored twice more to win 4-2.
All Real Salt Lake needed was a tie at Colorado in the 2008 regular-season finale to clinch their first playoff berth in franchise history. Strangely, the team came out and played what coach Jason Kreis described as the worst game all year. None of that mattered, however, as Yura Movsisyan scored a stunning goal in the 90th minute to give RSL the equalizer it desperately needed.
With his team trailing the L.A. Galaxy 1-0 with 26 minutes remaining in the 2009 MLS Cup, Robbie Findley was in the right place at the right time and buried a dramatic equalizer just in front of David Beckham to level the game at 1-1. The goal eventually sent the game into overtime and penalties, where Nick Rimando made two saves to clinch 2009 MLS Cup title.
With RSL clinging to a precarious 2-1 aggregate lead over Saprissa in arguably the most important match in team history on Tuesday, reigning MLS Defender of the Year Jamison Olave scored a magnificent 61st-minute goal on a half volley to give RSL a three-goal cushion in the aggregate series. His celebration of cupping his hands around his ears will go down as one of the lasting memories in team history. RSL hung on for a 3-2 aggregate victory and is now two wins away from establishing itself as the best soccer team in North America.