LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake gifted one to LAFC Sunday night.
Toni Datkovic accidentally kicked the ball past goalkeeper David Ochoa for an own goal in the 59th minute, as RSL loses at LAFC, 3-2.
Cristian Arango scored a brace for LAFC, including the fastest goal in club history, scoring 20 seconds into the match.
Damir Kreilach and Anderson Julio each scored to bring Real Salt Lake back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1, but an unfortunate own goal off the foot of Datkovic wound up standing as the decisive tally. The win takes LAFC level on points with RSL in the seventh and final Western playoff spot, and below the line only on goal differential.
“I think there were two lapses,” said RSL interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “There were individual moments that we can do better in but also as a collective, we have to do better as a group. When you give up a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game, I mean the game hadn’t even started yet. We can work on kickoff plays one hundred times in training, but it’s really the moments in the game that dictate that. As a collective we’ve got to do better in those moments.”
LAFC jumped on top on the very first sequence after kickoff, with Arango finishing off a clinically executed attack just 20 seconds into the match to give the hosts a stunning opener.
RSL would regroup, however, and find an equalizer on 28 minutes through a stunner from Kreilach. The standout Croatian unleashed a gorgeous curling distance strike from the right side that was perfectly placed at the far post.
But the 1-1 scoreline would prove to be short-lived as LAFC snatched the lead right back just two minutes later. It was Arango who provided the finish again, this time with a snap header off a pinpoint assist from Atuesta.
LAFC were unable to hold the lead again, as Julio found another leveler for RSL just on the other side of the halftime whistle. The Ecuadorian got free on a breakaway set up by a through ball from Albert Rusnak and made no mistake with the finish past Tomas Romero.
Once again, though, the hosts would regain the advantage, this time through a gift of an own goal that was charged to Datkovic. The defender attempted a wayward back pass that went past goalkeeper David Ochoa and rolled into his own net. The bizarre sequence would end up as the game’s final goal despite a couple more late chances for both sides.
“When you look at these goals that we gave up, it’s a team thing,” said RSL defender Erik Holt. “We could’ve blocked the cross, we could’ve cleared the ball earlier, I could’ve stepped back. It happened so fast, but things happen. Looking back at it, as a team we could’ve done better. We’re going to look at it and move on.”
“At the end of the day we all have to be proud, it’s hard to say, but it’s the truth,” said Kreilach, who scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season. “When Pablo [Mastroeni] and the coaching staff came to us and said that we are playing with three at the back it surprised us a little bit, but it was almost perfect. We deserved more than what happened tonight, we at least deserved a point. It is not easy to come to LAFC and control the game like we did for 60 plus minutes. The open moments for us were great, but LAFC was defending with 11 guys behind the ball tonight, so the way we played, the way we created chances was good. Unfortunately, it was unlucky for us tonight.”
Real Salt Lake (8-9-6) next plays at San Jose Wednesday night.