SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – LAFC came into Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night and showed Real Salt Lake why they are the best team in Major League Soccer.
Cristian Arango scored a goal in each half, as LAFC beat RSL for the fifth straight time, 4-1.
“We’re playing the best team in the league, and tonight they showed their class,” said RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
Arango’s first goal on a beautiful back heel touch gave LAFC (16-4-3) a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.
RSL responded just three minutes later as Sergio Córdova answered spun around just outside the 18-yard box and blasted in his fifth goal of the year, tying Jefferson Savarino for the team lead.
But Kellyn Acosta gave LAFC the lead for good with a goal in the 17th minute, finding the near corner of the net to beat Zac MacMath to make it 2-1.
Arango made it 3-1 in the 60th minute with his 11th goal of the season, while Welsh superstar Gareth Bale capped the scoring in the 87th with a beautiful solo effort to ice the game.
“There’s a lot of times where the result reflects the performance,” Mastroeni said. “Tonight, I don’t think the results reflected the performance. [LAFC] were killers in front of goal and they made us pay for it. But in the overarching run of play, we did a really good job attacking and creating good opportunities, exposing the wide areas, things that we’ve really worked on this week.”
Real Salt Lake created plenty of scoring chances, outshooting LAFC 16-14. But RSL put just three of those shots on frame, compared to eight for LAFC.
At the start of the second half forward Justin Meram was inches away from finding the equalizer, but a goal-line clearance robbed him of what seemed to be a sure goal. Then, in the 58th minute Pablo Ruiz rocketed a shot towards goal, but his attempt bounced off the crossbar.
After going unbeaten in its first ten home matches of the season, Real Salt Lake has now lost two straight at home.
“Obviously right now we’re frustrated,” said midfielder Jasper Loeffelsend. “Can’t really say much about it. It was a highlight game. I feel like the coaching staff did a phenomenal job with that. We have one day to be sad about it and then do whatever we want to do to get our heads back in the game again.”
Maxime Crépeau had two saves for LAFC, while Zac MacMath saved four shots for RSL.
The sold-out crowd of 21,810 was the largest crowd ever to watch an RSL game at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“The energy was fantastic,” Mastroeni said about the record crowd. “The fans were really a great twelfth man, really pulling the team forward, they wanted it more than everyone. At the beginning of the first half, at the beginning of the second half, the guys were bright and took that energy and really played with everything. It was one that I felt like we could play well and get a result, but the game of soccer doesn’t owe you anything–you have to go out and get it.”
RSL (9-8-7) next hits the road Sunday night at Seattle.