STOPPAGE TIME GOAL LIFTS REAL SALT LAKE U-18/19 INTO QUARTERFINALS

By Jeremy Reid

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 22, 2018) - A pair of goals from Sebastian Soto, including the game-tying tally in stoppage time, helped Real Salt Lake earn a 3-3 draw against Baltimore Armour to advance to the quarterfinal knockout round of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-18/19 Playoffs. Needing only a draw to advance, Real Salt Lake rode a rollercoaster of emotions through a thrilling six-goal second half before landing a spot in the knockout round at the death.

Following a scoreless opening 45, the fireworks started early in the second half as Baltimore's Christian Sorto opened the scoring in the 50th minute. An Armour corner kick was half-cleared as far as Sorto and he fired a shot through traffic to give Baltimore a 1-0 lead.

That advantage lasted just four minutes, as Real Salt Lake equalized on a goal from Luis Arriaga. Sebastian Soto chased the ball to the end line and was able to get a cross away just before going out-of-bounds, finding a streaking Soto to level the match in the 53rd minute.

Real Salt Lake then moved in front just three minutes later. This time, Soto found the back of the net. RSL earned a free kick out wide on the left-hand side and Alexis Canales stepped up to take it. He whipped the ball perfectly into the box to find the head of Soto, who powered it past Armour goalkeeper Craig Eichelberger to give the Utah-based squad a 2-1 lead.

In the 69th minute, Baltimore Armour pulled back even as Sorto scored his second of the night, bending a ball beyond the reach of Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ocoha. Three minutes later, the Armour quickly followed up to retake the lead. On the move near the corner of the box, Johan Granados lifted a ball into the box as two defenders closed down on him. It found Jacob Williams, who controlled the pass, turned and slotted a ball to the near post to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead. The Atlantic Division side held strong for the remainder of the 90 minutes in an effort to secure its knockout round spot.

But just as the clock ticked past regulation, the game turned again. Real Salt Lake found a game-tying goal to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals. A long ball from midfield deflected to Isidro Sanchez, while his initial shot was parried by Eichelberger it went only as far as Soto. The midfielder calmly finished into the open net from the top of the six-yard box to send Real Salt Lake into delirium and condemn Baltimore to heartbreak.

The six-goal second frame followed a cagey opening half that saw neither team able to get on the board as they traded chances. Baltimore Armour created the first chance of the contest in the 12th minute when Williams headed a corner kick just over the bar from the top of the six-yard box. Three minutes later, the Armour had another chance as Peter Mangione combined with Stephen Nichols, but his shot was cleared off the line by the Real defense.

RSL's first solid chance of the game came in the 26th minute as Arriaga, Richard Ledezma and Soto combined in the final third before Eichelberger aggressively came out to make a stop on Soto. Two minutes later, RSL earned a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the Baltimore box. Ledezma stepped up to take the free kick, but saw his shot palmed away by Eichelberger. Baltimore found one last opportunity before the half. Sorto had the initial chance, it was half-cleared to Mangione but he couldn't find the net on the follow-up as the game into the break deadlocked, setting the stage for an epic second half.

With the draw, Real Salt Lake advances to the knockout round quarterfinals on Monday, June 26. The rest of the day's games will determine its opponent.