By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Real Salt Lake were minutes away from their first-ever win in Canada when defender Nat Borchers was whistled for an unlucky handball in the box.
The RSL defender, who turned 32 on Saturday, slipped and fell to the turf at BC Place in the 83rd minute of the match with the Whitecaps. Borchers’s hand accidentally met a bouncing ball from Kekuta Manneh, and referee Drew Fischer immediately pointed to the spot.
The resulting penalty conversion from Vancouver midfielder Camilo brought the match level at 1-1. Neither side could find a late winner as they were forced to share honors in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon.
Borchers came close to redeeming himself on the final play of the match. A last-second RSL corner kick fell to the defender, but his headed effort was tipped over by Cannon.
Camilo’s goal erased the lead earned by substitute Olmes Garcia’s stunner of a goal in the 66th minute. The 20-year-old rookie from Colombia, who entered the match for Joao Plata early in the second half, tucked an unstoppable curling shot from just outside of the box into Joe Cannon’s net for his first MLS goal.
Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 lead lasted less than 20 minutes as Borchers’s unfortunate handball opened the door for the Whitecaps to snag a point.
Although he had kept Camilo out of his net with multiple first half saves, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando had no chance on the Brazilian midfielder’s spot kick. While Rimando decided to dive left, the kick bounced off of the right post and into the net—a spot where a save would have been extremely difficult even if Rimando had guessed correctly on the direction.
Rimando’s busy afternoon started in the 10th minute with back-to-back saves on Camilo shots from a corner kick. Eight minutes later, Camilo hit a bending free kick that Rimando was forced to tip out of the top corner. The midfielder came close to beating Rimando once more early in the match, but his long bouncing shot was denied by the goalkeeper at the last second.
While Camilo led the charge for the Whitecaps offense in the first half, Real Salt Lake had very little going for them on the other half of the field. The visitors’ best chance of the first half, a slick backheel from Joao Plata that found its way past Cannon, was called back for offside in the 35th minute.
RSL suffered a blow around the half-hour mark when captain Kyle Beckerman was forced to come off. The veteran midfielder suffered a rib injury after blocking a powerful shot from young Vancouver forward Russell Teibert and made way for Yordany Alvarez, who handed the captain’s armband to Borchers.
Garcia’s introduction shortly after the second half began shifted the momentum in RSL’s favor. The midfielder forced Cannon to make a couple of stops with his cleats before hitting his fantastic opener.
Both teams will be back in action next Saturday. The Whitecaps (2-2-2) will travel to Texas for the first of two straight league matches with FC Dallas while RSL starts a three-match homestand with a visit from Chivas USA.