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Previously benched Danilo Acosta finds stride in first start for RSL

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Real Salt Lake, including Danilo Acosta (front left), celebrates after Luis Silva (20) scored a goal in second-half stoppage time to put Salt Lake up 2-0 against the Seattle Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

Real Salt Lake, including Danilo Acosta (front left), celebrates after Luis Silva (20) scored a goal in second-half stoppage time to put Salt Lake up 2-0 against the Seattle Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

James Wooldridge

Danilo Acosta, a Real Salt Lake defender and Sandy native, has started to make an impact in his third season for the Claret and Cobalt. Acosta, who was previously benched behind defender Demar Phillips and midfielder Pablo Ruiz, found his groove with his first starting position of the season Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders.

“That’s my goal this year is just to move forward as much as possible,” Acosta said. “That was one of the best games I played as far as me going forward.”

During Saturday night’s match, Acosta's shot was rebounded by Sounders goalie Stefan Frei. The rebound was set up perfectly for forward Corey Baird to quickly head the ball into the net to put RSL up 1-0 in the 56th minute. A late second-half goal by forward Luis Silva secured the 2-0 home win for RSL.

“At first I thought it was offside,” Acosta said of the play. “I didn’t see Cory but he deflected and scored.”

With the play, Acosta was able to help RSL secure its sixth win in a row at home, tying the franchise record for most wins at home. The win also propelled RSL to third place in the Western Conference with a 7-1-6 record.

"He's running with it and doing a handful of things right," coach Mike Petke said of Acosta's start. "The biggest change in Danny was his attitude. The quality wasn't an issue. It's about consistently reminding him every day that this is what is expected."

In RSL's previous match against the Sounders on May 26, Acosta was able to help secure the team's 1-0 victory in Seattle with an assist to midfielder Sebastian Saucedo. Following RSL's victory in Seattle, Acosta was named to the MLS Team of the Week.

In Acosta's sophomore season with RSL, he was featured in 17 matches and made 16 starts. He played a total 1,411 minutes to tally two assists.

Acosta, a graduate of Real Salt Lake's Arizona Academy who signed a homegrown player contract in 2015, likely has a chance to start in RSL's next match against the L.A. Galaxy Saturday at 8 p.m. at Stubhub Center.