After missing the previous five games with a strained quad muscle, Real Salt Lake's all-time leading scored found the back of the net off a header thanks to a magificent crossing pass from Ned Grabavoy in the 78th minute to give RSL a 1-0 lead.
But only six minutes later, off a throw-in, Austin Berry headed a pass to Quincy Amariwka, who scored on an acrobatic move that beat Nick Rimando for the equalizer.
It was a point stolen for the Fire, who were on the back foot most of the night and were in the game largely thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who finished the first half with four saves – several of the spectacular variety.
"It was a situation where I feel like we dominated the game," said defender Nat Borchers. "We had the lion's share of possession and we had a lot of chances, and to give up a goal in a set piece like that is disappointing."
"I'm proud of the way the guy's played," said head coach Jason Kreis. "I thought we were the better team by far, and I think it's really discouraging when you give up a goal off a throw-in."
With Johnson and Nick Rimando in net – two US national team goalkeepers – goals were always going to be at a premium. So it was extra painful for Robbie Findley when he blew a golden chance in the 50th minute. Joao Plata put a ball to the middle from the left wing with Findley alone at the top of the six-yard box, but he put his header just wide.
Johnson also stopped great scoring opportunities by Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran.
"We had so many chances," said midfielder Sebastian Velasquez. "We were passing the ball well and had tons of opportunities. I think it feels like a loss. Every time we play at Rio Tinto, we want three points. This is our home, so I think we are all disappointed."
RSL nearly went ahead in the 76th minute when a Javier Morales free kick from 22 yards beat the wall, but Johnson turned it into perhaps his most eye-popping save of the night, pushing it off the underside of the crossbar and out.
"It's frustrating," said Grabavoy. "I just think on a different night, it's not a one goal game. We've been in games like this, we know what it takes, and we have to close that game out."
Playing its first of four straight MLS home games, RSL goes to 6-5-3 on the season. Real next host the Atlanta Silverbacks in a US Open Cup match on Tuesday before returning to MLS action June 1st against the San Jose Earthquakes. That game will be televised by ABC4 beginning at 7:30 p.m.