Sandy, Utah – A team that almost never wins on the road played one that almost never loses at home.
That was the scenario facing Minnesota United when it ventured to Utah on Saturday for a match with Real Salt Lake. And it played out predictably for most of the contest, until the Loons tied it in the 83rd minute on a goal by Miguel Ibarra.
Three minutes later Ibarra sent another shot into the Real Salt Lake net for what seemed to be a victory. But that goal, upon video replay, was disallowed because of an offsides call and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
"In their eyes it was an offsides, but it was a really close call," Ibarra said. "First half, we didn't play the game we wanted to play. Second half, we really came out and showed that we could play. Getting a point is big for us, especially away. Getting a tie is better than a loss."
The disallowed goal frustrated Loons coach Adrrian Heath.
"We've watched it four times again in the locker room," he said. "No one can tell."
The tie was the end of a five-game road trip for the Loons (9-16-3), although the stretch also included more than two weeks without a match, between Aug. 25 and Sept. 13. The Loons are now 1-12-2 in road matches while Real Salt Lake (13-10-6) is 10-1-4 at home.
"I was really disappointed in our first-half performance. To say it was passive would be an understatement," Heath said.
And the second half?
"We were everything we weren't in the first half," he said
Real Salt Lake's goal came when Damir Kreilach shot past diving goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 11th minute.
Shuttleworth had a little assistance later, when a shot by Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata clanked off the left post in the 33rd minute.
The best scoring opportunity for the Loons before halftime came on a pass by Romario Ibarra that skipped by Miguel Ibarra right in front of the net.
Coming out of the halftime break, both squads had runs to the goal thwarted when defenders punched away opportunities. In the 56th minute, Ibarra had a point-blank chance from less than 10 yards — and shot it squarely off the chest of goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
In the 80th minute, a left-footed shot by Ibarra from 20 yards out sailed over the RSL goal.
But that was just a preview of what was to come for Ibarra: one goal to tie and one goal that was waved off in the waning moments.
"He made good forward runs and started to stretch the game, and that gave Darwin [Quintero] more room to do what he can do best," Heath said.
"I was disappointed that we didn't go on to win the game because I thought we were most likely to go on to win the game. It was a stark warning for me and the players: We cannot play like that on the road in the first half."
The Loons host the Portland Timbers at TCF Bank Stadium next Saturday night. They last played at home Aug. 4.