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3 takeaways from Real Salt Lake’s narrow defeat against the LA Galaxy

The game was tight through the first half for RSL, but a defensive lapse early in the second half allowed the Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez to get behind the back line for the only goal of the game.

FILE — Real Salt Lake’s Damir Kreilach, center, celebrates with Albert Rusnak (11) and Maikel Chang (16) after Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough let a soft backward pass trickle over the line for a goal during the first half of a MLS soccer match Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Sandy, Utah.
Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Real Salt Lake crossed paths with the LA Galaxy for the second time this season for its second game of a three-game road stretch.

After handing the Galaxy their only draw of the season in the first meeting of the season, RSL was handed a 1-0 loss in Wednesday night’s matchup, forcing The Claret and Cobalt to leave Hollywood with no points to show for their trip.

The game was tight through the first half for RSL, but a defensive lapse early in the second half allowed the Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez to get behind the back line for the only goal of the game. Real Salt Lake had chances to equalize, the most potent chance came from a headed shot from Damir Kreilach in the 94th minute that was saved and pushed over the crossbar by LA goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.

Once again, RSL will face a quick turnaround as it travels to Portland to face the Timbers Saturday night.

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:

Offside controversy

LA’s goal in the 53rd minute was scored with a little bit of doubt initially, as Alvarez appeared to be offside when the ball was played to him by Sacha Kljestan. The side official elected not to raise his flag, prompting a VAR review which resulted in the goal being upheld.

The review took all of a few seconds, but probably warranted a more intensive look. Brian Dunseth, who was calling the game from the booth for Real Salt Lake, concluded quite confidently that Alvarez was offside during the broadcast.

Aaron Herrera was asked after the game his thoughts on the decision being upheld, but he didn’t have much to say.

“I have no comment, it’s not going to do us any good now,” Herrera said. “At first sight I thought he was off though.”

Goal drought

Following Wednesday’s game, RSL went back-to-back games goalless for the first time this season and hasn’t scored in nearly 194 minutes of regular time. Finding chances to score hasn’t been difficult for RSL (15 shots in Wednesday night’s game), but converting those chances has been the issue.

To be fair, it should be noted that both of the games The Claret and Cobalt have failed to score have come on the road in hostile environments.

Head coach Freddy Juarez said that scoring can be difficult in Major League Soccer matches, but that his team has to be able to convert their chances more frequently.

“Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t,” Juarez said. “Scoring is the hardest part of the game. I can remember two or three clear chances that may have been a goal on another night … but that’s the consistency that we’ve got to get. You put those chances away and it’s a draw or maybe we’re winning the game.”

Newly-named All-Star Damir Kreilach makes his impact

It was announced Wednesday morning that Kreilach would be named to his first career MLS All-Star team. Kreilach is the first RSL player to be named to an All-Star team since Nick Rimando received the honor in 2019.

Starting the game off on the bench for resting purposes, Kreilach came on late in the second half as RSL searched for the tying goal and provided arguably the closest opportunity for an equalizer with his header in stoppage time. Although the shot was saved impressively, the play demonstrated the impact that the midfielder can have on the Real Salt Lake attack.

“Damir deserves this,” Juarez said in a press release announcing Kreilach’s All-star selection. “He has done so much for the club and scored so many big goals for the team and that is a product of his talent, but also his work ethic. This is a great achievement for him that recognizes all of his hard work and commitment.”