This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • On a steamy August night at Rice-Eccles Stadium 10 years ago, Real Salt Lake played before 45,511 spectators against one of the most-renowned franchises in world soccer. Real Madrid, replete with megastars David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Robinho and Fabio Canavarro, put on a show for the Beehive State in its 2-0 win.
On a steamy July night in Sandy on Tuesday evening, RSL played host to another legendary European side and UEFA Champions League winner of the past. This time around, RSL at least ensured it wouldn't be stuck with a zero.
With 28 players available against Serie A giants Inter Milan, RSL lost 2-1 in an international friendly that featured the first European-based team to play at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For RSL, it was the latest home match packed into this summer. For Inter, it was the start to its preseason prior to the upcoming International Champions Cup, which features 10 of the top teams in Europe facing off around the U.S.
Inter forward Stevan Jovetic showcased his world-class skill in the dying embers of the match by scoring the game-winning goal in the 92nd minute. Jovetic back-heeled a ball from five yards away, through the legs of RSL goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez to seal the victory.
"We looked surprised and we shouldn't be surprised that [Jovetic is] capable of that," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said.
Prior to the match, RSL signed eight Real Monarchs players to short-term contracts, to make the bench significantly deeper than usual. And with the club in the midst of some summertime struggles, Cassar utilized the deepest bench he's had at his disposal. RSL trotted out a starting lineup that featured more regular starters than not, and RSL's quality, at times, showed itself against the top-flight competition.
It was Jordan Allen who created a memory against the Italian powerhouse as the 21-year-old RSL Homegrown player put his team up 1-0 in the 18th minute. A loose ball was nicked into the near post by Allen when a Joao Plata corner was deflected off Inter midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia. The deflection rolled toward Allen, whose one-time tap into the net gave Rio Tinto Stadium a chance to erupt.
"That's what you want from players on attacking set-plays is to be ready at any moment," Cassar said. "If they're ready for it, they can take it and seize that moment."
RSL nearly rolled out wholesale changes in the 31st minute when starters Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Justen Glad, Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan and Burrito Martinez exited the match. Three minutes prior to halftime, Inter equalized. Defender Danilo D'Ambrosio smacked a left-footed volley off RSL substitute Ricardo Velazco from a corner kick delivered by Caner Erikin.
"I can accept it, because we didn't work on it, we had guys that hadn't been with us and things like that, but it's more of a mentality," Cassar said. "I just want our group going forward to be tougher, to be sharper in certain moments of the game."
In the second half, more changes followed.
Andrew Brody nearly one-upped Allen in the 53rd minute. The Monarchs player on loan to RSL was able to sneak behind the Inter back line when midfielder John Stertzer played a ball through. Brody got on the end of it, but his shot was saved by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Jovetic nearly put the Italian club up 2-1 in the 75th minute, but his chip toward goal hit the post before the ball was cleared by RSL substitute Chris Schuler.
R Jordan Allen put RSL up 1-0 in the 18th minute.
• Inter's Danilo D'Ambrosio equalized in the 42nd minute with a left-footed volley and Stevan Jovetic won it in injury time.
• RSL returns to MLS action Friday at home against the San Jose Earthquakes.