We burned through five headlines to this post in the waning moments of tonight’s completely insane CONCACAF Champions League clash between Real Salt Lake and Cruz Azul in Mexico City.
Here they are:
1. Real Salt Lake Overcomes Elements, Cruz Azul, to Make History with 3-1 win (80th minute)
2. Real Salt Lake Implodes, Blows 3-1 lead in Rainstorm to Tie 3-3 (88th minute)
3. Real Salt Lake Melts Down, Blows 3-1 lead in Rainstorm to Lose 4-3 (89th minute)
4. Real Salt Lake Escapes with Absurd 4-4 tie (92nd minute!)
5. See Top. (93rd-plus minute. Sigh.)
Yep. That happened.
In case the frenzied rewrites above are not enough to piece this unhinged game together, here’s a brief recap:
We heard the weather might be a factor in this one, and “factor” turned out to be a huge understatement.
The conditions were almost unplayable: driving rain left huge pools of standing water in midfield by halftime, and the second half was delayed by the conditions. Routine passes bogged down, the footing was Boogie Board-esque.
Real Salt Lake had an early goal dubiously called back, and Cruz Azul opened the scoring directly after that, with Javier Orozco finding the net in the fifth minute.
No matter for RSL fans: Alvaro Saborio equalized from the spot 18 minutes later, and then, just before halftime, Saborio pounced on a waterlogged backpass to the Cruz Azul keeper, rounded him, and punched it into the open net. Emphasis on “punched”—Saborio made sure his finish didn’t stall in the muck.
Halftime: Real Salt Lake 2, Cruz Azul 1
When Fabian Espindola scored in the 64th minute to make it 3-1, it seemed that CONCACAF history was in RSL’s—and MLS’s—grasp.
Sure, Orozco pulled one back in the 75th, but Real Salt Lake still led 3-2 as the game rounded the 80th minute and steamed toward 90….
Just two minutes left ….
And that was when Orozco buried his third, and Real Salt Lake’s chance to make history evaporated.
Before RSL fans could process that development, things went from bad to worse: Orozco struck a fourth. Cruz Azul 4, RSL, 3.
But wait! Will Johnson bagged a stoppage-time equalizer, 92nd minute! 4-4.
RSL would get a point out of this after all.
The RSL players dogpiled on the sideline in celebration, but the good feeling did not last long: Cruz Azul’s Christian Gimenez bagged the unlikeliest of winners just moments after the re-start.
So, to recap: Four goals in the final five minutes transformed a 3-2 RSL lead into a 5-4 loss.