Delentz Pierre’s Late Header Earns Real Salt Lake a Draw with Atlanta United FC
Posted Jun 17, 2019

A goal from Real Salt Lake’s Delentz Pierre three minutes into stoppage time canceled out a pair of penalties by Jackson Conway for Atlanta United, and the two MLS Academy sides played to a 2-2 draw in the Group H Feature Game opener in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-18/19 Playoffs.

Real Salt Lake scored first through Richard Ruiz before the two penalty kick conversions by Conway looked to give Atlanta United FC the three points, only to see Pierre flick home a header for Real Salt Lake in the dying moments.

In the 12th minute, a turnover in the back by Real Salt Lake led to the first chance of the contest for Liam Butts of Atlanta United FC, but Butts fired his effort well high of goal. The game remained scoreless in the early going.

Seven minutes later, Evangelo Spartiatis found himself in behind the Real Salt Lake defense, but goalkeeper David Ochoa, who plays for both RSL and U.S. U-20 National Team, came well off his line to disrupt Spartiatis and made it impossible to get a shot off.

Real Salt Lake took the lead with its first real chance of the game as Richard Ruiz put RSL in front in the 20th minute. Sergio Martinez fired a low, hard cross from the left side that deflected off a pair of Atlanta United FC players into the feet of Ruiz who rocketed a shot from close range off the foot of Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brant Zulauf and into the back of the net.

Conway brought Atlanta United even in the 32nd minute converting a penalty kick. Jeremiah Luoma was taken down while streaking down the left side of the box, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Conway stepped up and slotted the penalty low into the corner of the net to bring Atlanta United FC level, 1-1.

Neither team was able to create a clear-cut opportunity in the remaining 13 minutes of the opening half as Atlanta United FC and Real Salt Lake went to the break deadlocked at 1-1.

Ten minutes into the second half, Alessandro Castro danced through a pair of Real Salt Lake defenders to draw a foul just about 20 yards from goal. Will Vint stepped up to take the free kick for Atlanta United FC and his low shot was easily held by Ochoa in goal.

Just before the hour mark Ochoa had to come up with the first save of the second half, denying a chance from Spartiatis as he parried the shot out for an Atlanta United FC corner. Real Salt Lake was able to clear the corner as the game remained tied.

Conway nearly grabbed his second of the game and gave Atlanta United FC the lead in the 66th minute after Castro took advantage of a Real Salt Lake turnover and switched fields to Conway who cannoned his shot off the bar.

Six minutes later it was Real Salt Lake’s turn to ring a shot off the bar as Bryce Duke collected and turned at the top of the box, slamming a shot past Zulauf and back off of the crossbar.

Ochoa kept the game level with another big save in the 78th minute by closing the angle on Dylan Gaither and smothering his shot to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1.

Moments later Gaither was involved in creating another chance for Atlanta United FC as his flick found the run of Butts who was taken down in the box to give Atlanta United FC its second penalty of the contest. Conway stepped up and calmly finished another penalty just past the diving Ochoa in the 82nd minute to put Atlanta United in front, 2-1.

In the third minute of stoppage time, Delentz Pierre grabbed Real Salt Lake a share of the points by heading home a goal off a corner. Luis Arriaga sent in the corner and found Pierre rising high at the near post, and Pierre looped a header just inside the back post to tie the match at 2-2.

On Wednesday afternoon, Real Salt Lake will meet Bethesda SC and Atlanta United FC will play Crossfire Premier in the second round of games in Group H, both of which will kickoff at 4 p.m. PT. The winner of each group will advance to the Development Academy Finals in Irvine, CA on July 8-11.