Real Salt Lake Falls To Atlanta United In Disappointing Midweek Performance

Jul 13, 2022, 7:29 PM | Updated: Jul 22, 2022, 10:46 am
Justin Meram fights for a ball against Atlanta United on July 13. Photo courtesy: Laura Dearden of Real Salt Lake.

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake lost to Atlanta United on the road after struggling throughout the opening 45 minutes when they conceded both goals. It was just the second Atlanta United victory over the past 10 games and the fourth consecutive game in which Real Salt Lake failed to pick up three points.

Manager Pablo Mastroeni opted to make multiple changes for the midweek affair. Nick Besler, Erik Holt, Tate Schmitt, and Diego Luna all started for Real Salt Lake. Luna’s start was his first for Real Salt Lake since being acquired from El Paso Locomotive on June 2nd.

Mastroeni utilized the 3-5-2 formation for the first time since the road victory against Sporting Kansas City on March 26.

Both teams entered the fixture desperate for a result. Real Salt Lake had been poor over their past five fixtures while Atlanta had only won once in their previous nine games.

Disastrous Real Salt Lake start

It was Atlanta United at home that looked the most comfortable and dominated the possession and tempo of the game. The early breakthrough came in the 7th minute when poor defending allowed talented United striker Ronaldo Cisneros in on goal. Cisneros cut onto his left foot and struck his shot past Zac MacMath and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The momentum only gained throughout the opening half an hour of the match and Real Salt Lake was fortunate not to concede a second as Atlanta United continued to pepper MacMath’s goal.

Sloppy turnovers in the middle of the park from Real Salt Lake led to multiple quick counter-attacks and the Real Salt Lake backline was not prepared for the onslaught.

“I just think that maybe a little dip in confidence, we need to get sharper on the ball and move for each other,” Meram said following the conclusion of the game.

The league then doubled in the 33rd minute when Pablo Ruiz attempted a pass that was picked off 35 yards from goal, one touch onto his left foot and Cisneros buried his brace.

However, against the run of play just five minutes later, Justin Meram cut onto his left foot and swung a cross into the box that found the head of center back Johan Kappelhof. It was Kappelhof’s first goal of his career after 143 games of MLS fixtures.

The Kappelhof goal gave Real Salt Lake a glimmer of hope going into halftime, but a lot of adjustments were required to change the outcome.

Improved Second Half

Mastroeni made two halftime moves when he took off Luna and Pablo Ruiz and brought on Sergio Córdova and Jasper Löffelsend in an attempt to find some control of the game.

Another move was made in the 63rd and 68th minutes when Maikel Chang, Bode Davis, and Chris Kablan joined the game replacing Tate Schmitt, Justin Meram and Andrew Brody respectively.

The changes brought a new sense of belief and life to the rhythm of the game for Real Salt Lake. It was a drastic change from the opening 45 minutes when Real Salt Lake was being outmatched physically.

Next RSL Match

Real Salt Lake returns home this upcoming Sunday evening when they host Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL

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Real Salt Lake Falls To Atlanta United In Disappointing Midweek Performance