Giovani dos Santos and Joao Plata went blow-for-blow, but it was Juan Manuel Martinez who landed the final punch.
Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy played to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on Wednesday night after Martinez found a last-gasp equalizer in the 94th minute. The tying goal came with some help from Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who allowed Martinez’s low roller to trickle under him and into the back of the net.
Martinez’s strike sent Real Salt Lake and its fans into a frenzy, as it capped a comeback from two goals down. The Galaxy were up, 3-1, midway through the second half thanks to a two-goal, one-assist performance from dos Santos, but Plata impressively cut the deficit in half with his second tally of the night in the 67th minute before playing the final ball to Martinez that was fired home.
Plata had scored earlier in the match to pull RSL level at 1-1. The diminutive forward struck in the 53rd minute via a penalty kick that he earned, but dos Santos reclaimed the lead for the Galaxy four minutes later with a low shot that stung off the post.
The Mexican attacker had put the Galaxy ahead early in the match with an assist to Emmanuel Boateng, but that was canceled out by Plata’s spot kick in a wild second half that saw five goals scored and the points split between the two Western Conference sides.
MAN OF THE MATCH
A strong case could be made for Giovani dos Santos here given his all-around contributions and the fact that he was playing for the road team. Joao Plata was slightly better, however. Plata earned the penalty kick that initially gave Real Salt Lake life by alertly chasing down a ball that Brian Rowe should have picked up. The Ecuadorian attacker once again gave his club a chance at getting a result by firing a rocket into the top corner of the net to trim the Galaxy’s lead to 3-2, and he then fed Juan Manuel Martinez for the last-second goal that completed the comeback.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
A likely Goal of the Week candidate, Joao Plata’s second strike in the 67th minute was more than just a thing of beauty. His ability to blast a one-timed shot into the top corner with such force was certainly easy on the eyes, but, more importantly, it gave Real Salt Lake a reason to believe at a point in the game in which it seemed like the Galaxy were going to cruise to the finish line.
MATCH TO FORGET
If the Galaxy had held on for a win, Jamison Olave would have been the top choice here. They didn’t, though, thanks to two terrible blunders from Brian Rowe. In what very well may have been his worst game of the season, Rowe first conceded a penalty kick when he fouled Joao Plata in the box after bafflingly refusing to pick the ball up and getting stripped of it by the RSL attacker. Rowe’s day only got worse in the game’s dying seconds, as he somehow could not get enough of the routine ball that ended up as the equalizer.