SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake just embarked on a brutal 15-day stretch in which they play five games, and it did not get off to a very good start.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Diego Rossi scored in a five-minute span midway through the first half to help LAFC beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 on Sunday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“Tonight they capitalized on our mistakes,” said RSL defender Aaron Herrera. “We can’t have mistakes that lead to easy goals. If we could sort of cut those out of our game, we’ll be better going forward.”
RSL (4-5-6) is still above the playoff line in eighth place in the Western Conference with 18 points.
LAFC jumped ahead of Colorado into a tie for fifth with FC Dallas with 21 points. Wright-Phillips scored off a rebound in the 22nd minute, and Rossi connected in the 27th from close range after a long run down the left side.
Brian Rodríguez made it 3-0 in the 59th, splitting defenders and firing a shot between goalkeeper Andrew Putna and the right post.
Real Salt Lake got on the board in the 64th on Eduard Atuesta’s own goal off a shot by RSL defender Marcelo Silva.
“I thought we responded in the second half,” RSL head coach Freddy Juarez said. “The challenge to the guys was to win the second half. I didn’t care what the score is, look to win the second half, we came short of that, we created opportunities to get ourselves in the game.”
Andrew Putna made three saves in goal for Real Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake was without star midfielder Albert Rusnak, who left this week to play for the Slovakian National team. Rusnak will miss at least the next five games for RSL.
“We wanted to get in behind as often as we could tonight,” Juarez said. “If Albert was in, that still would have been the game plan of getting in behind. I don’t want to talk so much about Albert, because we all know how good Albert is, but the fact is that he’s not here. He does at times make a difference, when we give it to him in a tight area. We’re not talking about Albert. We wish him luck with the national team. I thought we started off the game very dangerous, we just lost a bit of focus on the goals we gave up.”
RSL next plays at Seattle Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.