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 Utah Royals FC

RSL Dominant in 2-0 Home Win Over Seattle

May 16, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Utah Royals FC News Release


SANDY, Utah (Wed.) - Real Salt Lake (7-2-4, 25 pts, 1st West MLS) were dominant in a 2-0 defeat of the visiting Seattle Sounders FC with goals from young attackers Diego Luna and Andrés Gómez. The win extends RSL's league-leading unbeaten streak in MLS play to a staggering nine matches, dating back to March 9, incidentally a 1-2 loss to this weekend's opponent, Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado.

Watch / Listen to RSL Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni, AM Diego Luna and FW Andrés Gómez commentary following 2-0 home victory over Seattle Sounders on Wed., May 15, 2024

Real Salt Lake came out for the first 45 minutes of play firing on all cylinders, opening up the first ten minutes of play with more than a 65% share of possession and preventing Seattle from tallying a shot attempt. The first chance for either side came in the 7th minute, as Chicho Arango patiently advanced up the right wing. Head up, he spotted the run of Colombian countryman Andrés Gómez, bending a through-ball around the marker and onto his feet as he bombed down the right wing. Gómez opted for a far-post strike that went just wide.

It would be the 15th minute before Seattle could muster a shot, applying pressure twice in quick succession. First, former RSL DP Albert Rusnák received a cunning through-ball as Seattle sprung into a counter attack, finding himself face-to-face with RSL's 19-year-old Gavin Beavers before he put it over the bar and out of play. Then again, this time in the 19th minute, a scary opportunity for Sounders materialized against the run of play. A sneaky ball from Rusnak slipped through the midfield and onto the feet of former RSL attacker Danny Musovski around the penalty spot before Brayan Vera and Justen Glad converged to expertly pick his pocket without a shot attempt.

Regaining momentum, RSL nearly struck in the 23rd. Winning a corner, Diego Luna whipped an outswinger into a box crowded with Claret-and-Cobalt shirts, kicking out to Vera in the box who took a touch and ripped a volley on net, only kept out by a great save from Stefan Frei.

RSL would claim the lead in the 27th minute. The counterattack began as Luna tracked back on defense, digging out the ball in his own defensive corner and playing a back-heeled pass to Andrew Brody for the breakout. Returning it to Luna streaking down the middle of the pitch, the young Olympic hopeful then found the overlapping run of Matt Crooks who promptly played a perfectly weighted through-ball to Gomez down the right side of the box. The Colombian international juked his defender and switched feet to place a far-post curled strike into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season - and his third game-winner - as America First Field erupted.

Sensing danger, RSL pushed to net a second in the 38th and again in the 39th. DF Philip Quinton played it through the midfield and into the attacking third for Chicho on the right wing. He spotted the inverted run of Crooks and played a back-heel pass to his feet. Marked, he then played a back-heel of his own for another inverted run, this time to Gomez, as he put the shot just over the bar. Play resumed as RSL forced a quick turnover deep in enemy territory, immediately threatening again as Braian Ojeda and Gomez both got a shot off in the exchange. Up one, Real headed into the half enjoying an advantage in nearly every major statistical category.

It would take just twelve minutes after returning from the half before Salt Lake scored again to take a commanding two-goal lead. As RSL held possession in its own defensive third, Vera received the ball and dribbled through three Seattle defenders to find himself streaking through the heart of the midfield. With MLS Golden Boot race leader Arango on his right and Luna fresh off an assist on his left, he opted for the latter. Receiving the ball with a dazzling heel chop to beat his defender inside, Luna got it onto his right foot and masterfully curled it around a diving Frei and into the back of the net.

Brimming with confidence after his goal, Luna nearly stole his third of the season and second of the match in the 70th minute. Arango, Gomez and Luna formed a triangle on the right wing, rapidly transferring possession between them and ending with Arango finding Luna on the corner of the box. Cutting onto his left and flashing across the face of goal and past two defenders, he ripped a cross-body attempt that Frei narrowly tipped over for a corner kick.

Then again, Real Salt Lake nearly made it three in the 74th minute. With Seattle controlling possession in the RSL attacking third, Crooks used his 6'6'' frame to body the opposing player and win it for an immediate counter attacking opportunity. Noticing the favorable numbers, he played a long through-ball to the feet of Gomez on the right wing. In a two-on-two scenario with Anderson Julio off to his left, Gomez hit a stepover dribble and faked a shot on his left foot to create space before going for a long-distance strike at the far post, only being denied by another diving save from Frei. Both teams went back and forth for the remaining 15 minutes of play but the RSL advantage remained steady to convert the 2-0 scoreline into three points. RSL finishing the match with an advantage in possession, shots, shots on target, expected goals, passes completed and passing accuracy.

Tactically, some very familiar and some less familiar faces combined in Pablo Mastroeni's defense to produce the shutout. In the middle, it was the first time in three matches that the lineup featured the first-choice centerback pairing of Justen Glad and Brayan Vera . The pair successfully completed 96 passes on the night en route to the shutout. On the outside, the less familiar faces of two 2024 signings, Alex Katranis and Philip Quinton, showed off their motors by claiming space up and down the wings at a rapid pace, Quinton earning his third straight start but first minutes at right back since joining the Claret-and-Cobalt last month. Finally, 18-year-old Gavin Beavers occupied the net for RSL for just the third time this season in MLS play, making two crucial saves in the match and fearlessly playing the ball with his feet. This was the second consecutive clean sheet for Gavin Beavers in MLS play, and his first at America First Field

Fans can catch RSL next in Rocky Mountain Cup action on Saturday at America First Field for an MLS showdown with rivals Colorado Rapids - kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. For tickets, schedules, info, news and more around the Western Conference's top team, visit rsl.com/tickets

RSL 2 : 0 SEA

GOAL-SCORING SUMMARY:

RSL - 27' Andrés Gómez (Matt Crooks, Diego Luna): The counterattack began as Diego Luna tracked back on defense, stealing the ball and playing a backwards pass to Andrew Brody for the breakout. Returning it to Luna streaking down the middle of the pitch, he then found the overlapping run of Matt Crooks who promptly played a perfectly weighted through ball to Gomez down the right side of the box. The Colombian national juked his defender and switched feet to place a far-post curled strike into the back of the net.

RSL - 40' Chicho Arango (Andrés Gómez & Matt Crooks): As RSL held possession in their own defensive third, Vera received the ball and dribbled through three Seattle defenders to find himself streaking through the heart of the midfield. With MLS Golden Boot race leader Arango on his right and Luna fresh off an assist on his left, he opted for the latter. Receiving the ball with a dazzling heel chop to beat his defender inside, Luna got it onto his right foot and masterfully curled it around a diving Frei and into the back of the net.

RSL v SEA NOTES:

Real Salt Lake victory extends unbeaten run to nine matches, dating back to March 9th's loss to rivals Colorado Rapids; the streak is the fourth-longest in Club history, also marking the first time in RSL's 20 years that the team has registered back-to-back seasons with unbeaten runs of nine or more.

MF Emeka Eneli plays the full 90 minutes for the 13th consecutive game in MLS action, maintaining his status as the lone RSL player to play every moment of MLS play this season. Eneli is now one of six MLS outfielders to have played the full 1170 minutes this season.

Three RSL players - Eneli, Chicho Arango and Andrew Brody - have appeared in every match of 2024, as an injured Bode Hidalgo sees his 12-game streak end due to a hamstring injury suffered Saturday at LA Galaxy.

19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Beavers earns his second consecutive MLS clean sheet - and his first at home - in his ninth career MLS start.

DF Philip Quinton, in only his second career MLS start for Real Salt Lake, played out of position at right back. His only other MLS start this season prior to Saturday at LA Galaxy came from Columbus against RSL on April 13, days prior to his acquisition from the Crew.

MF Matt Crooks earned an assist in the 27th minute on a pass to Andrés Gómez, his first since February 24 against St. Louis CITY.

FW Andrés Gómez nets his fifth goal of the year,and his third game-winner (March 2 v LAFC, April 20 at Chicago), his five goals placing him tied for 13th-most in MLS, representing a ninth goal contribution (four assists this campaign).

LINEUPS:

Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Gavin Beavers; Philip Quinton; Andrew Brody (Alex Katranis, 46'); Justen Glad; Brayan Vera; Emeka Eneli; Braian Ojeda (Nelson Palacio, 85'); Andrés Gómez; Chicho Arango © (Anderson Julio, 71') ; Matt Crooks (Maikel Chang, 77'); Diego Luna (Fidel Barajas, 71')

Subs not used: Zac MacMath, Bryan Oviedo, Tommy Silva, Bertin Jacquesson

Seattle Sounders (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei ©; Jonathan bell; Jackson Ragen (Yeimar Gomez Andrade, 83'); Cody Baker (Reed Baker-Whiting, 65') : Joao Paulo (Cristian Roldan, 46'); Albert Rusnak (Jordan Morris, 65') ; Leo Chu (Paul Rothrock, 22'); Danny Leyva; Sota Kitahara; Georgi Minoungou; Danny Musovski

Subs not used: Alex Roldan, Andrew Thomas, Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, Dylan Teves

Stats Summary: RSL / SEA

Shots: 21 / 9

Shots on Goal: 9 / 2

Saves: 2 / 7

Corner Kicks: 11 / 6

Fouls: 11 / 8

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:

RSL: Andrés Gómez (Yellow, 86'), Fidel Barajas (Yellow, 90+2),11 Total Fouls

SEA: Cody Baker (Yellow, 55'); Cristian Roldan (Yellow, 84'), 8 Total Fouls

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