Real Salt Lake picked up three big points in the Western Conference's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs race on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, earning a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders behind a game-winning goal from Damir Kreilach.
HIGHLIGHTS: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC | September 18, 2021
Kreilach's 48th-minute header, his team-leading 10th goal of the season, was enough to move RSL into the No. 5 spot on the West table. Seattle, meanwhile, rotated their squad somewhat ahead of their massive Leagues Cup Final against Liga MX's Club Leon in Las Vegas on Wednesday (10 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN).
RSL started off on the front foot, notably coming inches from a highlight-reel opener in the 15th minute off a scorching volley from Aaron Herrera that looked bound for what could have been an AT&T Goal of the Year candidate. But it glanced off the crossbar and was the closest chance for either side in what ended as a scoreless first half.
The hosts found their opener just after the second-half kickoff through a close-range header from Kreilach. The chance was set up by some fantastic individual play from Herrera, who pulled a series of jukes on Brad Smith to free up space for an inch-perfect cross that gave Kreilach an easy finish.
RSL continued to press for another, nearly doubling their lead just nine minutes later off a close-range effort from Albert Rusnak that required a difficult kick-save from Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei to keep it out of the net.
An insurance goal eluded the hosts, but it turned out to be a moot point, as the Sounders' push for a second-half equalizer came up short.
- 48' - RSL - Damir Kreilach | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's a big win for RSL as they look to keep pace in the ever-competitive West, giving them some necessary breathing room above the playoff line. They also got the better of their first rematch with former head coach Freddy Juarez, who departed in August to take an assistant position on Seattle's staff. Seattle never really kicked into gear, but they have one of their biggest matches of the year to look forward to in the impending Leagues Cup title bout.
- MOMENT OF MATCH: It's Kreilach's game-winner, which was all RSL needed to take all three points.
GOAL: Damir Kreilach, Real Salt Lake - 48th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Aaron Herrera was front and center for RSL's best two looks of the night, first on the early near-golazo, then with nifty juke-work for the pinpoint assist on the game-winner.
- RSL: Saturday, September 25 at Portland Timbers | 10:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS regular season
- SEA: Wednesday, September 22 vs. Club Leon | 10 pm ET (ESPN, TUDN, UniMas) | Leagues Cup Final