RSL U-18s earn impressive draw in Madrid

Note: Courtesy of the Real Salt Lake communications staff, here is a recap of the RSL U-18s first game at the U-18 Club World Cup on Monday.

ALCORCON, Spain – Real Salt Lake’s Under-18 squad picked up a thrilling 1-1 draw vs. European youth powerhouse Partizan Belgrade on Monday at Under-18 Club World Cup. After giving up an early strike to the highly touted Partizan side, midfielder Nick Marshall found the equalizer the 73rd minute.

After one round of play, Real Salt Lake stands tied atop Group D with one point and is in excellent position to accomplish something no MLS team has in the four years of this tournament – advance out of group play and into the elimination rounds.

The team is back in action on Wednesday against Spanish First Division side Espanyol at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. MDT).

After losing in last year’s championship game Partizan Belgrade came into the match significant favorites. They started off in impressive form, controlling the early tempo and capping things with a 25-yard strike in the 32nd minute.

RSL didn’t back down, however, immediately countering and pushing the pace, the Salt Lake side began to find its rhythm. In the second half RSL’s possession improved and its speed finally opened up some cracks in the Partizan backline.

Striker James Rogers nearly pulled his team level just ten minutes after the break. Sneaking between a pair of Belgrade defenders, the 2008 SUM Cup MVP nodded a Trevor Henderson cross on frame only to see the Partizan keeper save the shot off his line.

The 72nd minute saw another chance go begging as forward Danny Mwanga corralled a ball just left of the penalty spot. Turning with a defender draped on his back the reigning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year fired a right-footed blast at the far post. The Belgrade netminder was up to the task once again though, this time parrying the shot just wide of his post.

Taking the resultant corner kick, midfielder Donny Toia fired a driven, left-footed ball at the near post where Marshall rose above the pack and headed the ball just inside the near post.

Looking to capitalize and pick up a late winner, RSL controlled possession and continued to push forward in attack. The Partizan defense held firm though, and even found a pair of dangerous chances with their potent counter-attack. Much like his Serbian counterpart, however, RSL keeper Mike D’Arrigo met the challenge and made a pair of spectacular saves to secure the point for his team.

RSL Lineup: GK – Mike D’Arrigo; DF – Taylor Bowlin, Jon Pearman, Taylor Peay, Kodiac Gamble; MF – Karson Payton (Donny Toia 45′), Mike Hodgen (Colin Anderson 80′), Adrian Saldana, Trevor Henderson (Nick Marshall 62′); FW – James Rogers (TJ East 58′), Danny Mwanga

Substitutes Not Used: Jason Dodson, Carlos Cruz, Josh Kealamakia, Tommy Martin, Joey Layton

Scoring Summary:
Partizan Belgrade – 32
Real Salt Lake – Marshall 1 (Toia 1) 73′

2009 Mundial de Clubes Sub-18 Comunidad de Madrid – Schedule
6/1/09 – Real Salt Lake vs. Partizan Belgrade – 1:1
6/3/09 – Real Salt Lake vs. Espanyol (SPA) – 10:00 a.m. MT
6/5/09 – Real Salt Lake vs. Rayo Vallecano (SPA) – 10:00 a.m. MT

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