SALT LAKE CITY — Fabian Espindola scored on a first-half penalty kick for Real Salt Lake and D.C.United's Charles Davies scored off another penalty kick in the second half for a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
Since winning in its first trip to Utah, D.C. had lost five straight games on the road against Salt Lake and were outscored 13-3 in those matches until finally gaining a point.
"It's tough for any team to come here and get a result," Davies said. "We knew it was going to be difficult, but we knew we had the talent to do that. It's a fair result today. We hit the crossbar a couple of times and we played hard."
Davies was key in the 85th minute. A penalty kick was awarded to United when Chris Wingert took Davies down with a tackle inside the box. Davies stepped up and slotted the ball inside the left post as Rimando dove for it.
"The game was pretty flat and they needed somebody who could stretch the defense and change the game and bring that energy on," Davies said. "It's a good feeling to know whenever I'm on the field, I change the game."
United (4-5-5) controlled the attack early in the first half and it nearly paid off. Chris Pontius smacked a left-footed shot from the left side of the box in the 22nd minute.
Pontius had a good angle with the ball, but Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando denied him with a nice save in the bottom right corner. He also nearly came up with an equalizer for D.C. in the 51st minute after hitting a long distance shot and making the ball rattle the crossbar before bouncing away.
D.C. coach Ben Olsen felt the team's effort was not as complete as it could have been for 90 minutes.
"Offensively, we're a pretty consistent group," Olsen said. We're creating chances and we're getting some goals. Defensively, we still have to be a little sharper at times."
Real Salt Lake (6-3-4) came close to taking its first lead in the 28th minute after Espindola sent a left-footed shot from 35 yards. The ball was perfectly on frame and D.C. goalie Bill Hamid barely knocked it down and out across the endline to keep Salt Lake off the scoreboard.
Espindola scored near the end of the half when he converted a penalty kick in the 38th minute to put Salt Lake up 1-0. Clyde Simms was called for a handball in the box to set up the penalty kick. Espindola sent the ball left and Hamid dove the other way.
For too long, Rimando said, they let D.C. dictate the tempo of the game.
"They pressured us," Rimando said. "We didn't really hit the ball on the ground. We didn't have a lot of possession. We kept trying to kick that ball long and that's not our strength right now."
Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis says his team needs to put away games when it has a chance and make major improvements on both sides of the ball.
"We have to be very disappointed to have the three points wrapped up and then to give away a counter attack and have to be at the mercy of the referee's decision," Kreis said.