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Chicho Arango can’t stop scoring in Real Salt Lake’s 2-2 draw with LA Galaxy

SANDY — Chicho Arango can’t stop scoring, and Real Salt Lake remained unbeaten in eight matches Saturday night.

But a late giveaway will send RSL back home with 1 point instead of 3.

Arango tallied his second brace of the season in Real Salt Lake’s 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy as Miguel Berry scored in the waning seconds of the match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The match marked Arango’s third outing with at least two goals of the 2024 season, part of an 11-goal, seven-assist start to the first 12 appearances of the MLS regular season that has seen the multi-million dollar striker contribute to 18 of Salt Lake’s 20 goals scored.

But perhaps the moment that will most stick will be Riqui Puig’s second assistant, when the former Barcelona Academy product found his 26-year-old countryman who grew up in the San Diego area with a pin-perfect dime that Berry slid to nudge past Zac MacMath with virtually the final touch of the match.

Yes, Salt Lake earned a point on the road against a top-three team in Major League Soccer’s western conference. But the manner in which RSL stayed atop the west with 22 points was all the players were thinking about in the locker room.

“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed,” RSL manager Pablo Mastroeni said. “The game of soccer is decided by moments. … When you’re up 2-1 with 10 seconds left, if there is anything tactical to fix it’s that zones don’t score goals, only players. You’ve got to get inside of your players to make sure there is no play on the ball.

“The guys worked extremely hard and played extremely well,” he added. “The last play of the game is the one that sticks out, but I thought there were 2-3 more goals for us if we were cleaner in executing. At the end of the day, you’ve got to play until the last whistle.”

RSL (6-2-4, 22 points) was forced into an early sub, bringing off starting right back Bode Hidalgo for Andrew Brody just 17 minutes in. The club was already shorthanded in defense, with new addition Philip Quinton replacing Brayan Vera at center back while the Colombian served a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.

But three minutes later, Arango gave the visitors a lead they wouldn’t given up until seconds before the final whistle. The designated player striker scored his 10th goal of the season via glancing header from Alex Katranis that put Salt Lake in front in the 20th minute.

It was Real Salt Lake’s only shot of the first 20 minutes, but it was enough to give RSL the lead through halftime. And yet, Real Salt Lake’s leading goal scorer wasn’t done yet.

Arango doubled his tally just before halftime, finishing a one-touch shot in front of goal from Andrés Gómez’s cross from the end line in the 41st minute.

Matt Crooks sprung Gómez into space on the right wing, the result of a 26-pass sequence that passed through every RSL player on the field before the Colombian youngster found his countryman with one cross, and Arango redirected the ball into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.

“That is an ideal goal,” Mastroeni said. “Oftentimes it doesn’t come off like that, but that’s the kind of stuff that we’ve worked on. Andrés’ combing with Crooks has been really good, and the space behind back lines is where Andres really thrives.

“The way that we want to attack is that: making the field big, exploiting the wide areas, and good decisions in and around the box that culminated with that goal.”

Los Angeles out-shot Salt Lake 15-9 in the first half, but the Galaxy only put four of those shots on goal — four shots that MacMath saved with relative ease.

Gabriel Pec pulled one back for the Galaxy in the 54th minute, finishing a weighted ball from Puig to cut the deficit in half as LA put the press on the visitors.

RSL nearly got away with a road win, but Puig delivered a ball into the area with virtually the final touch of the match that found Berry for the equalizer in the last minute of stoppage time.

Real Salt Lake is back home Wednesday to host the Seattle Sounders. Kickoff at America First Field is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MDT.

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