SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake welcomed back Alvaro Saborio in grand fashion, but the Chicago Fire's Quincy Amarikwa demanded to share the spotlight as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
After missing the team's previous five games with a strained quad muscle, Real Salt Lake's all-time leading scorer re-announced himself with a bang, scoring in the 78th minute to give RSL a short-lived lead. Sebastian Velasquez played a nifty ball toward the corner to midfielder Ned Grabavoy, whose cross was headed home by Saborio.
But only six minutes later Amariwka answered after getting onto the end of an Austin Berry flick to volley home.
It was a point stolen for the Fire, who were on the back foot most of the night and were in the game largely thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who finished the first half with four saves – several of the spectacular variety.
With Johnson and Nick Rimando in net – two US national team goalkeepers – goals were always going to be at a premium. So it was extra painful for Robbie Findley when he blew a golden chance in the 50th minute. Joao Plata put a ball to the middle from the left wing with Findley alone at the top of the six-yard box, but he put his header just wide.
Johnson did well to parry away a 25-yard, left-foot blast from Chris Wingert in the 57th minute, and Tony Beltran wanted to get in on the action but was stoned by Johnson from 35 yards.
As the chances continued to pile up, and the clock kept ticking, Chicago began pulling more players behind the ball. But with the Fire bunkering a bit more, it also made RSL press more, which began to open space in the middle and open things up for a counter-attack.
RSL nearly went ahead in the 76th minute when a Javier Morales free kick from 22 yards beat the wall, but Johnson turned it into perhaps his most eye-popping save of the night, pushing it off the underside of the crossbar and out.
Two minutes later Saborio would finally break through, giving Amarikwa the chance to answer. Off a long throw from Jalil Anibaba, Berry was able to get a head to it and flick it into the path of Amarikwa, who volleyed it home acrobatically.
RSL (6-5-3, 21 points) host the Atlanta Silverbacks in a US Open Cup match on Tuesday, and the Fire (2-7-2, 8 points) travel to Charlotte to face the Eagles in their Open Cup game on Wednesday.