by Brayden Palmer
On Saturday, August 14, 2021, Real Salt Lake played their first of two matches against Texas-based teams in a five day stretch. This one was played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Austin FC and RSL matched up for first time in history. After a tough stretch, RSL was able to score a goal to get a 1-0 win.
RSL started this match knowing they needed points and looking to keep all of them at home. The teams kicked off and played back and forth with some pretty simple and nice soccer. After a few good chances by either team, Austin FC had the biggest opportunity to score in the 28th minute.
Diego Fagundez picked up the ball just outside the RSL 18 and ripped a low shot toward the far post. RSL keeper MacMath couldn’t reach the ball as it flew past him. The strike bounced off the post and RSL was safe. Austin FC clipped in another great cross from the rebounded shot but couldn’t put the header on frame.
Minutes later, RSL picked the ball up and countered through the middle of the field with Albert Rusnak. He strode forward and played the ball wide to Jonathan Menendez. The attacker attempted a low cross toward the runners at the far post but Matt Besler, brother of RSL’s Nick Besler, blocked the cross.
Menendez picked up the rebound and looked for another opportunity to get the ball in. This time he played the cross in the air and found the head of Bobby Wood. The forward snapped the ball off the ground and into the far post to beat Austin FC’s goalkeeper.
After halftime, RSL got a huge boost as Austin defender Julio Cascante was awarded a red card after a VAR check. The referee had initially given a yellow card but after review deemed it to be denial of a goal-scoring opportunity for taking down Justin Meram just outside the box. RSL played nearly the entire second half with the one-man advantage.
Although RSL didn’t concede a goal, they couldn’t break down Austin’s defense to increase their lead despite the numerical advantage on the field. Salt Lake had the chances to score on several counter attacks but they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
The match finished 1-0 with Wood’s goal being the only difference between the two teams. RSL will look to build a winning streak with another home match coming quickly, this time against the Houston Dynamo. The game will be played in Utah on Wednesday night.
Featured image courtesy AP News