Real Salt Lake’s Playoff Hopes Suffer Significant Blow With Cincinnati Loss

Sep 17, 2022, 9:33 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 11:05 am
Pablo Ruiz - RSL - Dribbles - Versus - FC Cincinnati...
Pablo Ruiz of Real Salt Lake dribbles against FC Cincinnati at America First Field on September 17. (Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)
(Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake has suffered a potential playoff-crushing home loss to Cincinnati FC at America First Field. The visitors scored the final two goals of the game to secure a 2-1 road win.

Manager Pablo Mastroeni started Diego Luna following his impressive display midweek against Austin. He also altered the lineup to fit the creative nature of Luna and opted to utilize a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, and Marcelo Silva played in a back three in front of Zac MacMath. Maikel Chang and Andrew Brody opted as wingbacks while Jasper Löffelsend and Pablo Ruiz held down the center of the park. Luna played in the 10 and Jefferson Savarino and Sergio Córdova headlined the attack.

Real Salt Lake needed all three points to further solidify their playoff push. A loss or a draw at home would put them on the very brink of being on the wrong side of the playoff line.

Dramatic First Half

Nevertheless, as the minutes went by RSL began to look like the more dominant team and it was Luna who flashed two shots wide of the far post sparking energy amongst the home fans.

The hard work paid off in the 35th minute when Maikel Chang scored with his head following a Savarino cross. Savarino caught the Cincinnati defense napping and received the ball on the goal line from a throw in, he then floated the ball across the face of goal and Chang buried his header into the ground and past Roman Celentano for the opening goal of the evening.

A minute later, Cincinnati was granted a penalty after the referee deemed that Glad pulled down striker Brandon Vasquez in the area. Glad was shown a yellow card. However, the referee was asked to have a look at the video monitor and he retracted the foul and yellow card.

But Cincinnati was not opposed and continued to press the RSL backline. In the 45th minute they found the equalizer after a poor display of defending by RSL allowed Brenner way too much time in the area as he struck a shot past MacMath and into the back of the net. MacMath got a glove onto the shot but the power of the shot was too much for the goalkeeper to handle and the ball painfully trickled over the goal line.

The drama continued throughout the first half when CĂłrdova chased down a pass intended for Celentano and was brought down by the diving legs of the goalkeeper. Ruiz grabbed the ball, talked off Savarino who was interested in taking the penalty and proceeded to be denied when his attempt found two gloves of Celentano who dove to his left.

Second Half Struggle For RSL

Mastroeni went to his bench at halftime and brought on Braian Ojeda for Jasper Löffelsend. He then made two more moves in the 64th minute when he took off Maikel Chang and Diego Luna for Justin Meram and Anderson Julio.

Real Salt Lake’s playoff hopes took a monumental blow when Brenner scored a brace in the 75th minute. Brenner put away his brace to give the visitors a lead in front of a stunned home crowd after controlling the ball in traffic before turning and firing a shot that beat MacMath.

Cincinnati added to its nine-game unbeaten streak by picking up all three points at America First Stadium.

Now, RSL finds itself on the outside of the playoff line with just two games remaining. The Galaxy, who replaced RSL in the seventh position, also has a game in hand on RSL and enjoys a significant eight-goal advantage in goal differential.

The final two games of the season must produce a total of six points if RSL intends on qualifying for the postseason.

Next Real Salt Lake Match

Real Salt Lake will play a friendly against Liga MX side Atlas on Thursday, September 22, at 8 p.m.

Their next MLS game will be on the road against LA Galaxy on Saturday, October 1st. MLS joins the international soccer window and will endure a week of FIFA international games ahead of the FIFA World Cup in November.



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