SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake’s playoff hopes took a big hit with a devastating 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati Saturday at America First Field.
With the loss, RSL (11-11-10) falls into eighth place in the Western Conference, tied with the LA Galaxy at 43 points. But Real would lose the tiebreaker to the Galaxy on total wins, 12-11.
“It’s tough because this result was very important and there is obviously pressure with that as well,” said head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “It’s not a situation where we need the three points and everyone is coming from a place of calm. If you have a lot of experience, these are the moments that you live for. If you are trying to break out in your career, it could be a little bit nervy because you think you need to play a perfect game to help get a result.”
Mikael Chang gave RSL a 1-0 lead with a goal off an assist from Jefferson Savarino in the 35th minute snap a 316-minute scoreless drought. But FC Cinncinati leveled the match just before the half in the 44th minute on a goal from Brenner.
RSL had a chance to re-take te lead, but rookie goalkeeper Roman Celentano saved a penalty kick by Pablo Ruiz to keep the game tied.
“This team has to have full confidence with whoever steps up and takes it,” Mastroeni said. “That’s how it’s always been for me. Last year in the playoffs, we scored something like five in a row. Everyone that wanted to take a penalty kick took it. Penalty kicks come from a place of confidence and the last thing you want to do is someone is having a bad game and you name the guy, whoever that it is stepping up because they have to not because they believe they are going to score.”
Brenner would put home the go-ahead goal in the 76th minute to give FC Cincinnati a 2-1 lead.
This is the third time this season Brenner has scored multiple goals in a game. He now has 14 goals total for the season.
Celentano finished with seven stops as FC Cincinnati extended its unbeaten run to 10 matches and won back-to-back games for the first time since May.
This is the first time all season that RSL has lost back-to-back games, and the first time it has lost when scoring first. RSL got shut out at Austin FC on Wednesday, 3-0.
Real Salt Lake now has two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of the season, at the Galaxy on October 1st.
“It is what it is,” Mastroeni said. “I don’t think our issue is understanding the way we want to go about the work. Our problem is executing in both boxes and that’s what’s cost us. So, if it was seven days, it’s great, if it’s ten days, it’s great. We just have to go when the whistle blows–we just need to execute better. We have to make the plays on both sides. That’s what it takes.”