Real Salt Lake Donates Win On The Road Against LAFC
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake suffered a painful loss to LAFC despite being the more dominant team. Crucial mistakes made by Real Salt Lake ultimately cost the visiting team any result.
“It is tough, we wanted to come here and play with a certain type of mentality, we wanted to dictate the game and play it on our terms,” Manager Pablo Mastroeni said post-game. “I think we did that with the ball, I think we did that without the ball…but you cannot concede a goal in the manner that we did on the third one and expect to win away from home against a team like LAFC,” he added.
Mastroeni opted for a different formation as he utilized a 3-5-2. It was the first time this season that Real Salt Lake has operated with three center backs in the same lineup.
David Ochoa returned from a quad injury and started in goal. It was his first fixture since the middle of July when Real Salt Lake beat Colorado 3-0.
Toni Datkovic, Erik Holt, and Justen Glad solidified the backline with Donny Toia and Maikel Chang operating as wingbacks. Everton Luiz and Nick Besler played in the heart of the midfield with Albert Rusnak as the number 10. Damir Kreilach and Anderson Julio were at the point of the attack.
LAFC was undermanned as captain Carlos Vela was unavailable due to injury. Brian Rodriguez was also unavailable.
The game began with Real Salt Lake conceding the opening goal of the game 19 seconds into the contest. Justen Glad deflected the ball into the feet of Cristian Arango who beat Ochoa but clipping the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Real Salt Lake settled and equalized in the 28th minute when Chang found Kreilach alone at the top of the box who hit the ball with the inside of his right foot and nestled the ball into the top right corner. It was a magical strike from a magical player.
But Real Salt Lake could not get out of their own way. Just two minutes after Kreilach scored, LAFC responded with a goal of their own and it was again Arango who found the back of the net after he found a pocket of space in between Glad and Holt to header the football past Ochoa.
The best opportunity for Real Salt Lake to equalize again came late in the first half when Julio broke from an LAFC corner kick and found himself one-on-one with LAFC goalkeeper Tomas Romero but was nudged when he unleashed his left-footed attempt and pushed his shot wide-left.
The halftime interval read LAFC 2, Real Salt Lake 1.
Despite the scoreline, Real Salt Lake looked to be the more dominant team. They controlled the possession and found dangerous pockets of space on multiple occasions when entering the attacking third.
Real Salt Lake Beat Themselves
“We gifted them goals,” Rusnak said following the game. “Especially the third one. The first one was 30 seconds into the game we were not switched on and we paid the price but you know, I thought the team effort, the fight is how we need to play moving forward.”
The second half began on Real Salt Lake terms when Rusnak pinched the football in the middle of the park and played a through ball into Julio who took one touch and passed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner coming within inches of the right post but finding the net nonetheless. It was a beautiful finish for Julio who has found form as of late under Mastroeni.
In the 59th minute disaster struck Real Salt Lake when Datkovic went to play a simple back pass to Ochoa. But Ochoa came off his line to take the football himself and the subsequent pass trickled into the back of the net for an own goal.
It remains unknown who is at fault for the own goal. If Ochoa called Datkovic out then Datkovic is to blame, but if Ochoa did not communicate with Datkovic then it is on him. Either way, Datkovic needs to raise his head and look to see where Ochoa is. The mistakes should never have occurred.
Sadly, Real Salt Lake could not find the third goal required to pinch a point against LAFC. It was the third consecutive loss that Real Salt Lake has suffered against LAFC this season. Fortunately, the two teams will not play another regular-season game again in 2021.
Western Conference & Next Fixture
With the loss, LAFC climbed the Western Conference standings and tied Real Salt Lake on 30 points through 23 matches played.
Real Salt Lake will not travel to San Jose for a date with the Earthquakes on Wednesday, September 15. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. and will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.