Entering new territory with their Leagues Cup matchup, Real Salt Lake and Tigres UANL had an interesting go of it on Wednesday night.
The game was probably what most people expected. RSL were dangerous enough to create chances, but not precise enough to finish them or careful enough to get out of their own way, having a goal and another dangerous opportunity called back for offside. Tigres scored on a deflected strike in the second half and won 1-0.
“They had an opportunity that could have made the difference in tonight’s game, and slowly we took over the game and dominated at the end,” Tigres head coach Ricardo Ferretti said.
The opportunities for Salt Lake didn’t come in bunches, but they were there.
“We created opportunities,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “If we were just a bit more clinical on certain ones. We hit two posts and were just a slight bit offside.”
The margin for error was simply too small against an opponent of Tigres’ quality.
“They’re a really good team and we helped them out quite a bit,” RSL midfielder Nick Besler said.
The last few minutes served up drama as Brooks Lennon was sent off, and Petke picked up a red card on his way off the field after the game, doing his best to get his players back to the locker room.
“I’m pulling five of my players away and I’m talking to my players,” Petke said. “He [referee John Pitti] must have thought I was talking to him and then afterward I told him what I felt.”
Petke then admitted to his frustrations about Pitti’s handling of, among other things, the surreal pitch invasion by a cat.
“Perhaps he was still thinking about the four minutes they put up, the cat running on the field, him allowing the player to take a shot on goal 10 seconds later and for some reason giving them the ball back and the additional reason of, after all that, arguing with our players, which took close to a minute, stopping the game at exactly four minutes.
“Perhaps his mind was there. All I was doing was grabbing my players. What I said afterwards would have gotten me a red card, but I said it after I got the red card.”