SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake had been playing its best soccer of the season. But on Saturday night, RSL ran into the best team in the league.
Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.
Real Salt Lake’s 8-game home unbeaten streak comes to an end as the team stays in fourth place (12-10-4) in the Western Conference.
“At times they make you try to rush play and we weren’t great with the ball, we weren’t great at finding spaces to relieve pressure,” said RSL interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “But the energy was very good. And then we get ourselves into a good situation early in the second half, where you go up against a very, very good opponent. And that’s kind of where my management wasn’t the greatest.”
LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.
Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.
Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.
Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. “You have to give credit to them, they’re an incredible team. It was kind of on that seesaw at times where it maybe could have gone either way. Just unfortunate to come out on the wrong side, but credit to them, they’re a good team.”
RSL had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.
Real Salt Lake next hosts Colorado Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.