Real Salt Lake dropped a 2-0 result against western conference rivals Sporting Kansas City thanks to goals from Johnny Russell and Gerso. The good news? RSL still moves on to the knockout round regardless of results. The lowest they can finish in group D is third place, and the lowest they can finish overall would be the fourth-place wildcard team, which sees them move into the round of 16 no matter what happens between Minnesota and Colorado tonight.
This morning’s game saw a few changes in the lineup especially with Albert Rusnak being forced out due to injury. Sam Johnson got the start up top, while Justin Meram slotted in on the right side. Kyle Beckerman started again next to Everton Luiz, while Erik Holt stepped in next to Justen Glad in lieu of Marcelo Silva.
The scoring got started right away when Johnny Russell found the back of the net after just 51 seconds. Gianluca Busio sent a corner kick in, and after a blocked shot, the ball bounced around a bit with RSL unable to clear it. The ball ended up at Russell’s feet who took a clear shot, sending the ball through Donny Toia’s legs and sailing easily past Zac MacMath to put SKC up 1-0 very early in the game.
After that goal, RSL seemed to find a rhythm as they controlled the majority of the possession and had a couple decent looks on goal.
Though unable to find an equalizer in the first half, RSL went into the halftime break with momentum on their side and 57% of possession, although they were held to only two shots in total through the first 45.
Freddy Juarez pulled Johnson off at halftime and brought in Douglas Martinez, who had started both previous games of this tournament, hoping he would bring that spark the attack was looking for.
Despite some good chances, neither team was able to find a goal throughout the second half until Gerso found the back of the net in the 86th minute to double SKC’s lead.
The loss sees RSL fall to third place in the group while SKC jumps to first for the time being, pending results of the Minnesota-Colorado game later tonight. No matter what happens there, RSL qualifies for the knockout rounds through a wildcard spot at the very least, although if Colorado beats Minnesota by a certain number of goals, RSL could finish second place and take on Columbus in the next round.