Real Salt Lake Suffers First Defeat Of 2022 Losing To SKC at Children’s Mercy Park
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake suffered its first defeat of the 2022 season losing to Sporting Kansas City following a Johnny Russell goal in the 82nd minute.
“I just told the guys that despite the loss they [the team] controlled the performance,” Mastroeni proudly said postgame.
Manager Pablo Mastroeni was forced into a game-time change when Johan Kappelhof pulled up with a tight calf in warmups granting Jasper Löeffelsend his debut. The change also forced RSL into a 4-3-3 shape, a formation that they had yet played in 2022.
First Half Arm Wrestle
The first half began with Sporting Kansas City threatening Zac MacMath’s goal but by the quarter of the hour Real Salt Lake had settled into the contest. Jonathan Menéndez had a splendid opportunity but was denied by Tim Melia in a one-on-one chance after Pablo Ruiz played a perfectly weighted through ball.
Sergio Córdova also had a number of opportunities in front of the sticks but was unable to control the ball well enough to get away a solid shot.
At halftime, SKC dominated the possession but RSL easily won the shot and shots on target count. When the halftime whistle blew RSL was looking like the more likely team to score.
Center Back Dilemma
The center back depth was again tested when Erik Holt failed to return to the pitch at halftime following a plantar fasciitis issue that arose. Mastroeni was then forced into granting 17-year-old Jaziel Orozco his debut.
“I’ve never seen anything like this… I don’t know. We might have to bring one of our outside backs in to build a three. But that leaves us exposed in the wide areas. I don’t know, the timeline for these guys doesn’t look like it’s gonna be next week,” Mastroeni said when asked if he will have enough healthy center backs to play next week against Colorado.
SKC started the second half in a similar fashion to the first; by peppering the MacMath goal, however, to no evail. MacMath’s superb form to start 2022 continued throughout the SKC fixture.
In the 78th minute, Rubio Rubin came off the bench replacing Maikel Chang and saw his first minutes of 2022 after successfully recovering from offseason surgery.
The breakthrough came in the 82nd minute when Johnny Russell broke free and easily slotted the ball past MacMath in the bottom left corner of the net. Everton Luiz made a poor decision to pressure Russel who was easily able to turn Luiz, dribble and Marcelo Silva and Tate Schmitt and get in on goal after deflecting the ball off Schmitt’s leg.
It was Johnny Russell’s first game of the season after returning from injury and he dominated the right side of the pitch as he so often does for SKC.
Damir Kreilach returned to the fray after dealing with a calf injury in the 87th minute. The substitution suggests that Kreilach will be available for next week’s fixture against Colorado.
Real Salt Lake will next travel to Colorado and DSG Park for a date with the Rapids in the first episode of the Rocky Mountain Cup for 2022.
The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. The match will be available to watch for free via the KSL Sports & KSL Sports apps or on KSL Sports dot com.
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