AUSTIN, Tex. (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake is in a serious scoring drought.
For the first time in over five years, RSL has failed to score a goal in three straight games, after getting shut out by Austin FC Wednesday night, 3-0.
Real Salt Lake dominated play for the first 60 minutes of action, before Moussa Djitte checked into the game and took over.
Djitte scored three goals in a 14-minute span, as Austin FC pulled away at home.
“I think frustrated is putting it nice,” said a livid Pablo Mastroeni after the game. “You’ve got to compete the right way. This has got to mean something. You’ve got to go out and give everything you have. You’ve got to sacrifice your body. You’ve got to get out and be willing to lose your head. There’s dogs out here that want to win the damn game! We’ve got to go out and win the damn game, man! Not good enough.”
Real Salt Lake got off 17 shots, six on frame, but were repeatedly turned away by Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
Djitte began his night in the 58th minute when he entered for Maximiliano Urruti, and he had Austin in front on his first touch of the match.
Julio Cascante sprayed a ball wide for Fagundez on the left, and Fagundez curled in a cross toward the edge of the 6-yard box. Djitte held his run to remain onside and raced onto the cross, meeting it with a first-touch half-volley to poke it past goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who might have reacted late on the play.
Djitte doubled the advantage 16 minutes later with some quick thinking. Ethan Finlay struck a half-volley off the crossbar, and Djitte was first to reach a headed half-clearance on the right side of the penalty area. He hammered a low half-volley past MacMath and inside the left post.
Djitte completed the hat trick four minutes later with maybe his easiest chance of the night, finding himself alone on the back after Ruben Gabrielsen flicked on Fagundez’s crossing pass.
“I think the guys that started the game were fantastic,” Mastroeni said. “But the guys that came into the game didn’t catch up to the speed of the game, the focus of the game, or the desire of the game. It’s about mentality and character, and we lacked that with the guys coming into the game.”
Thanks to Vancouver’s 3-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy, RSL remains in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, three points ahead of the Galaxy with three games left in the regular season.
RSL next hosts FC Cincinnati Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at America First Field