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RSL unable to overcome league leaders, fall 2-0 in Atlanta

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RSL dropped points in Atlanta tonight as the league’s top team cruised to a 2-0 win over the visitors. RSL remains above the playoff line with only four games to go.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy -USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake suffered a loss to the top team in MLS tonight as they fell 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to Atlanta United FC.

This match saw the return of Marcelo Silva to the lineup after missing the last six games in a row due to injury. Nick Besler, who had been starting in his stead, found himself starting the game on the bench. Kyle Beckerman, who was pulled out of the Minnesota match due to a hamstring injury concern, also started the game in his usual spot.

RSL found a little bit of luck in the 20th minute when Hector Villalba let a shot rip from near the top of the box toward the far post. He easily beat Nick Rimando, who dove and missed the ball, but the post had other plans as the ball bounced directly off the far post and right back into the safe hands of Rimando, keeping the score at 0-0 early on.

That scoreline didn’t stay that way for long, as Julian Gressel opened up the scoring for Atlanta in the 37th minute thanks to a ball from Almiron. The ball found Gressel completely unmarked in the corner of the 18 yard box, where he had plenty of time to chest it down and set up a perfect shot to the far post that Rimando was unable to get a hand on, putting the home side up 1-0.

While RSL went into the halftime break down a goal, it could have easily been down two or three as Atlanta outshot RSL 8-1 overall, and 4-0 on target, while controlling 54% of possession.

Savarino had a golden chance early on in the second half as he collected a long ball unmarked in the box in RSL’s attacking third. He let a shot rip that beat Brad Guzan with ease, but bounced off the post and out, keeping RSL off the scoresheet with what was easily their best chance of the game thus far.

Atlanta doubled their lead in the 61st minute off a throw-in. Gressel tossed the ball in from the touchline, presumably to Martinez who pulled a dummy with his head and let it pass by him to the waiting feet of Villalba. Villalba sent a shot flying in from just outside the 18 that bounced off the post, but went straight into the back of a diving Nick Rimando, deflecting off him and going straight into the net to put the home side up 2-0.

It looked as though Atlanta would add to their lead in the 84th minute as Almiron got a clear and easy goal into the net, but the AR raised the flag and the goal was called back for an offside call.

Rusnak had a fantastic shot just moments later after a corner kick. After some fancy footwork he sent a shot in that took a deflection and forced Brad Guzan to make a save on a shot that otherwise was destined for the back of the net.

The game ended with a win for the Five Stripes — who are on their way to breaking the all-time single season points record (69 set by Toronto last year) sitting at 63 with four games remaining. Real Salt Lake remains above the playoff line for the time being, also with four games remaining as they visit Sporting Kansas City and Portland on the road, while facing Portland and New England at home to finish out the regular season.


Discipline

43’ RSL - Sunny - yellow card

Goals

37’ ATL - Julian Gressel (Miguel Almiron)

61’ ATL - Hector Villalba (Julian Gressel)

Lineups

Real Salt Lake

Rimando; Lennon (77’ Saucedo), M Silva, Glad, Herrera; Sunny, Beckerman; Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; Kreilach

Bench: Putna, Acosta, Barry, Mulholland, Ruiz, Saucedo, Baird

Atlanta United

Guzan; Gressel, Escobar, Gonzalez Pirez (88’ Robinson), Bello (73’ Hernandez); Larentowicz, Nagbe, Remedi; Villalba (81’ Barco), Martinez, Almiron

Bench: Kann, Barco, Carleton, Hernandez, Kratz, Robinson, Williams