AUSTIN, Tex. (ABC4 Sports) – There was no late game magic this time.
After a dramatic victory at home Wednesday night over the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake went on the road, and gave up two goals to Cecilio Dominguez in a 2-1 loss to Austin FC.
Austin won for the second time in three matches and provided an obstacle in the Real Salt Lake’s run to the postseason. Even with Saturday’s victory, expansion Austin remains at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, two points in arrears of 12th place Houston Dynamo with six matches remaining.
Real Salt Lake began the weekend in fifth place in the West, one spot and four points out of a guaranteed first-round home playoff match, but Saturday’s loss puts RSL in jeopardy of dropping in the standings depending on the remainder of the weekend’s results.
RSL was outshot 17-8 and managed just two shots on target in the loss in Real Salt Lake’s third game in a week.
“A lot of these guys have had a lot of minutes, and coming into Texas in 90 degree weather and humidity, there’s got to be a freshness within the group,” said RSL interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “Not switching it up and putting fresh legs in there after the Portland game and after the midweek game, we would’ve been in a worse way than switching it up. We’ve got to be a team. We have to have guys that are ready to step in and make a difference when their number is called. At this point after another emotional, tough week, guys have to step up when their number is called. That was the thought process behind that.”
Dominguez got Austin on the board in the 17th minute, cleaning up a rebound after a shot by Sebastian Driussi was blocked by goalkeeper David Ochoa. Dominguez swept in from Ochoa’s left to make short work of the opportunity, placing his left-footed shot in the bottom right corner of the goal.
Austin added to its lead in the 55th minute as Dominguez completed his brace by again being in the right place at the right time.
Driussi lofted a pass from near the sideline over two RSL defenders and to a streaking Diego Fagundez, who outraced the defense while carrying the ball deep into the box and crossing it to Dominguez for the easy goal.
Real Salt Lake cut the deficit in half nine minutes later. Rubio Rubin directed a perfect one-touch pass to Damir Kreilach, whose powerful right-footed shot from the center of the box beat Austin keeper Brad Stuver to the bottom left corner. The goal was Kreilach’s 13th of the season.
“They are tough to play against,” Kreilach said. “When you bite they play you out and then they are creating a chance up front. In the first half we were kind of standing around and in the second half we told ourselves that we had to put more pressure on and we did, so we’re disappointed that we didn’t score a second goal.”
Real Salt Lake captured the only other match between the teams this season, winning 1-0 at home on Aug. 14.
“I think obviously we had heavy legs after playing three games in six days, but we all had to do it, they had to do it as well,” said RSL forward Rubio Rubin. “We knew it was going to be difficult coming here and playing in the humidity and the heat, but we had plenty of opportunities to score and tie it up. Now we have to live with it and move on.”
After the international break, RSL next hosts Colorado October 16th.