REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake Secures Inaugural Victory Over Austin FC

Aug 14, 2021, 10:03 PM
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake has secured a much-needed three points against Austin FC solidifying early dominance over the MLS newbies.

Manager Freddy Juarez opted for a changed lineup from the last fixture against Portland. Zac MacMath remained in goal, Aaron Herrera, Marcelo Silva, Toni Datković, and Ashtone Morgan played across the backline. Justen Glad was unavailable to play due to yellow card suspension.

Everton Luiz and Damir Kreilach held down the center of the park while Justin Meram, Albert Rusnák, Jonothan Menéndez played just behind Bobby Wood who was at the point of the attack.

The stakes were high. RSL was coming off a three-game week that led to only one point and was trending in the wrong direction down the Western Conference standings.

First Half Jitters

The opening first five minutes were played entirely on Austin’s terms. The away team controlled all of the position and warranted themselves three corner kicks early.

RSL looked stunned.

However, as the minutes ticked by RSL slowly played themselves into the game and became more familiar with the speed of the contest.

Menéndez played a big role in guiding RSL back into contention. The shifty winger was electric dribbling the ball at Austin defenders and opening passing lanes to bring his teammates into the game.

Datković was the glue that held the defensive structure together. Both players have solidified themselves as key members of this team, despite their short RSL careers.

Datković nearly opened the scoring in the 20th minute when he got on the end of a beautiful Herrera cross. His header was gobbled by the gloves of Austin’s goalkeeper, Brad Stuver.

Then, 12 minutes later, Wood found the back of the net after his header from nine yards out bounced into the ground and found the far left corner of the goal. Menéndez was credited with the assist after he put in a beautiful delivery from the right-wing.

RSL’s Numerical Advantage

As the first half wound down, Wood received a pass in the heart of the midfield and was met by a vigorous from behind challenge from Austin center back Julio Cascante. Despite the pleas from the RSL playing group head referee Dave Gantar opted not to show a card much to the disbelief of the home crowd.

However, four minutes into the second half Cascante brought down Meram who was in on goal. The referee first showed Cascante yellow before being advised to take a further look at the monitor. After checking with VAR he determined the offense to be red card worthy and Cascante was sent for an early shower.

With the numerical advantage, RSL controlled the remaining 40 minutes of play. Although, Austin did alter their tactics with the hope of catching RSL napping on the counter-attack. Despite having a player advantage, RSL struggled to shut out Austin in the second half. Austin was able to control large portions of the second half with their ability to pass and dribble around the RSL defensive structure.

The frustration began to grow for RSL who became growingly upset with the defensive work rate of a few attacking players.

Juarez went to his bench to bring fresh legs into the contest. Rubio Rubin, Nick Besler, Maikel Chang, and Pablo Ruiz all appeared off the bench for RSL in the second half.

The addition of fresh legs energized the playing group who found a way to ultimately defeat Austin 1-0. Although, the victory did not come as easy as many would have thought given the numerical advantage as Austin peppered crosses into the RSL box up until the closing minutes.

Next Up

RSL will quickly return to Rio Tinto Stadium when they host Houston this upcoming Wednesday, August 18, at 8 p.m.

The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.

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