VANCOUVER, B.C. (ABC4 Sports) – Capping a week of turmoil, Real Salt Lake suffered its worst defeat of the season.
Two days after head coach Freddy Juarez surprisingly parted ways with the club, RSL got blown out by the Vancouver Whitecaps in interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni’s debut, 4-1.
“I feel like we didn’t have the right mentality,” said Mastroeni, who was an assistant under Juarez. “Physically, I think they were first to most balls and picked up all the loose balls. It was a very difficult match, and there were two of the strangest goals I’ve seen in a long time. When you concede an own goal, or essentially two own goals, it’s going to be difficult. So given that and the circumstances that the players experienced this week, it wasn’t easy, but I find solace in the fact that they kept going and found a goal.”
The game got off to a rough start for Real as in the 33rd minute, a Vancouver corner kick bounced off the leg of RSL defender Marcelo Silva and in for an own goal to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead at the half.
Vancouver then scored three goals in a 16-minute span to take total control of the game midway through the second half.
The first goal could have been stopped by RSL keeper Andrew Putna, but he wasn’t able to secure a centering pass by Christian Dajome, and Brian White buried it in the back of the net.
Real Salt Lake’s defense broke down on the next two goals, as Ryan Gauld and Florian Jungwirth scored on easy headers to make it 4-0.
“It’s a frustrating one,” midfielder Albert Rusnak said. “I can’t stop thinking about the goals we conceded. It’s tough because you work so hard to create a chance to score a goal and on the other side we give up sloppy goals. So, its a tough one tonight.”
RSL avoided the shutout when Anderson Julio scored his fifth goal of the season in the 90th minute.
This is the first team all season that RSL has lost by more than one goal.
“It’s been one of the craziest weeks and I’m sure the players haven’t seen too many like this as well,” Mastroeni said. “It’s really about getting back to where we were prior to this, and that’s training the right way, having the right mentality, and more importantly finding the solution to what is now an issue with our set pieces. We’ve been great for the first 20 matches and now we’ve conceded in the last 3, so I think we’re not giving ourselves much of a chance to get into the game when we’re conceding soft goals.”
Real Salt Lake played without leading scorer and MLS All-Star Damir Kreilach, who missed the game because of yellow card accumulation. Defender Aaron Herrera was also out with a hamstring injury.
Vancouver played its first game since head coach Marc Dos Santos was fired on Friday. The Whitecaps are now unbeaten in their last nine games.
RSL (7-8-6) stays above the playoff line in sixth place in the Western Conference headed into Saturday’s home match against FC Dallas.