RSL falls to Austin FC in Round One of the Playoffs

RSL falls to Austin FC in Round One of the Playoffs

by Gavin Lee

Real Salt Lake lost to Austin FC 3-1 in penalty kicks on Sunday at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas during Round One of the 2022 MLS Playoffs.  

After scoring two early goals from forwarding Sergio Córdova, RSL gave up one first-half goal and a goal in the final minutes of regulation to allow Austin to tie the game 2-2 and take the match into overtime. 

Following a scoreless overtime, RSL defender Marcelo Silva scored a goal on the first penalty kick attempt. However, RSL was unable to knock in any more shots as Austin FC scored three-straight penalty kicks to come up victorious in the match.

Despite the match being close and RSL leading most of the time, Austin dominated RSL in possession time 68.5% to 31.5%, shots 38 to 11, shots on goal 11 to four, and corners 14 to two. RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath had a nine-save performance as well.

The First Half

The first half got off to a quick start for RSL as forward Rubio Rubín fired the first shot of the game within the first two minutes, almost knocking the ball into the left side of the post. However, less than a minute later, fellow forward Sergio Córdova lodged in the first goal of the after directing in a header following a cross pass from fullback Andrew Brody to put RSL up 1-0. 

Austin midfielder Alexander Ring attempted to answer the goal by firing at the bottom left corner from outside the box but MacMath made the save. Austin went on to shoot two more shots but missed both opportunities. 

Córdova had another opportunity to score in the 15th minute after Austin midfielder Jhojan Valencia had a handball in the penalty area, giving Córdova a penalty kick opportunity. Córdova capitalized and found the bottom left corner after fooling Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver, giving RSL an early 2-0 lead. 

Austin was unable to immediately respond, missing out on two opportunities in the following 12 minutes. However, midfielder Sebastián Driussi put Austin on the board in the 33rd minute after he and Diego Fagúndez recreated Córdova and Brody’s goal, cutting the deficit down 2-1.

RSL left winger Jefferson Savarino tried to score his first goal of the game in the final minutes of the half with a long ball toward the middle of the post, but Stuver made the save.

The Second Half

The second half began with Austin quickly firing two shots right away but missing both attempts. Savarino followed with another great look but Stuver again made the stop. 

Things got worse for RSL after Rubín was ejected in the 52nd minute after picking up his second yellow card and leaving the team down a position on the field. 

Austin capitalized on this opportunity, firing nine shots over the next 40 minutes without allowing RSL to get any good looks. MacMath made three saves for RSL while the other six shots missed.

However, RSL substitute Scott Caldwell made a critical mistake in the penalty minutes of the second half after surrendering a handball in the penalty area to give Driussi a chance to score the equalizer, which he does to make the match 2-2. Austin reserve Emiliano Rigoni tried to follow with another goal but MacMath made the save to force overtime.

Overtime

Austin remained aggressive in both halves of overtime, forcing 10 shots but wasn’t able to knock any through. MacMath stood firm for RSL, saving three attempts while Austin missed posting the other shots. 

Brody had RSL’s only true opportunity to score in overtime during the 111th minute with a shot from inside the box that missed left.

Penalty Kicks

With overtime going scoreless, the game went into penalty kicks where Silva threaded the ball into the right corner of the post to score a penalty goal for RSL. Driussi immediately responded with a goal of his own to tie things up 1-1 in penalty goals.

Brody took the next penalty kick for RSL but missed after Stuver made a diving save. Austin midfielder Diego Fagúndez followed through on his end and drilled the ball into the top right corner to give his team a 2-1 edge. 

RSL midfielder Braian Ojeda replicated the same shot as Brody and found the same result with Stuver making another key save for Austin. Austin reserve Emiliano Rigoni then punched in penalty goal number three for his team to give them a 3-1 advantage over RSL. 

The fate of the match then came to RSL substitute Tate Schmitt to keep his team alive; however, he missed his attempt high and away to the left to seal the win for Austin. 

With a season full of highs and lows, RSL finished the regular season 7th in the Western Conference Standings and with a 12-11-11 record overall with 47 points. RSL finished 9-3-5 overall at home and 3-8-6 on the road.

Featured image via RSL Soapbox

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