SANDY, Utah -- Through 93 and a half minutes the Sounders FC looked like the victors at Rio Tinto Stadium Sunday night. The problem was that final 30 seconds as Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio ended up on the right side of a Nelson Gonzalez corner kick and headed it into the back of the net, leaving Seattle with a 2-2 draw against the defending MLS Cup champions.
Steve Zakuani scored his first goal of the season in the 11th minute and Seattle were the benefactors of an own goal in the 72nd minute, but Will Johnson scored in the 53rd minute and Saborio added the late equalizer to spoil Seattle’s chances at a road victory.
“Giving up a goal at the last second like that, we’re not happy with that. We could have walked away with three points,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It was something we worked hard for and I don’t think we played super well. We found ourselves in the lead. It’s a critical mistake at the end of the game and we can’t make a mistake like that.”
After going back and forth for the first ten minutes of the match, James Riley gained possession in the midfield, sliding the ball forward to Fredy Montero on the attack. Montero turned the ball to Zakuani coming up the left side for a one-on-one opportunity with RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Zakuani blasted the ball to Rimando’s left and Rimando got a piece of it, but not enough to thwart the second-year midfielder from his first goal of the 2010 season, giving the Sounders FC a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
“It was just a counter-attack,” Zakuani said. “I saw Rimando coming out so I tried to just slide it past him. He got a little lucky because he got a touch on it, but the ball went in the goal so I was happy with it.”
That lead held until the half, but Johnson got Salt Lake on the board when a quick cross from the right side caught the Sounders off guard. Robbie Russell threw the ball in to Robbie Findley on the right sideline and Findley passed it right back to Russell for a cross into the box. Johnson got behind the Sounders defense and scored with a diving header inside the far post, evening the tally at 1-1 in the 53rd minute.
Seattle kept pressing and when Freddie Ljungberg was fouled 19 yards out against the right sideline, it put them in position for another threat in the box. Ljungberg swung the free kick toward the far post for Tyrone Marshall, but Nat Borchers shielded the ball into the net for an own-goal, giving the Sounders FC the 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute.
That lead held despite eight shots and 11 corners from Real Salt Lake - at least until the final moments of stoppage time. Gonzalez swung in the 12th corner kick of the night for Salt Lake and Saborio headed their ninth shot on the game, beating Kasey Keller to the far post for the equalizer.
“Anytime you’re winning with 30 seconds left and you concede a goal it’s disappointing. It’s about finishing games off and today we weren’t able to do it,” said Keller, who finished the night with three saves.
The draw moves the Sounders FC to 1-1-1 (4 points) on the season, as Real Salt Lake leaves the night with the same record. The traveling Sounders FC fans made up a boisterous chunk of the 19,970 in attendance at Rio Tinto as Seattle got one point out of their first road match of the season.
“Getting a point on the road is still something,” Schmid said. “We had some opportunities where we were very close to breaking it open, but we have to do things better on the possession side of the ball.”
The Sounders FC will host the Kansas City Wizards next Saturday with a noon kickoff from Qwest Field.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 48), Freddie Ljungberg, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 78), Fredy Montero (Nathan Sturgis 74), Pat Noonan.
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 46), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Andy Williams 36), Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Alfonso Saborio 78), Fabian Espindola.
Sounders FC - Steve Zakuani 11 (Fredy Montero, James Riley); own goal 72 (Nat Borchers).
Real Salt Lake - Will Johnson 53 (Robbie Russell, Robbie Findley); Alvaro Saborio 93+ (Nelson Gonzalez).