Elimination Rounds Continue As RSL Travels to Face Reigning MLS Cup Champions; RSL Faces MLS West Joint Second for Right to Host Quarterfinal Match V Tigres/Monterrey Saturday; Utah Side Advances With Thrilling Second-half Comeback Against Mexican Power Club León
HERRIMAN, Utah (Monday, August 7, 2023) – Real Salt Lake continues its inaugural Leagues Cup foray Tuesday in Southern California with a critical elimination match against reigning MLS Cup Champions LAFC (10-6-7, 37 pts., t-2nd West MLS), with the Round of 16 match in Los Angeles kicking off at 8:30p MT.
RSL advanced to the West Region’s final four with a thrilling 3-1 comeback win against Mexican power and CONCACAF Champions League holders Club León Friday night in Utah, as a three-minute Danny Musovski brace and a Chicho Arango dagger during a 12-minute span in the second half reversed an 0-1 deficit to advance RSL, which has suffered just one loss in its last 14 matches played since June 1. Arango has scored three goals and added two assists in his six games with RSL, while Musovski now owns nine goals and five assists since late April to match Jefferson Savarino for the Club’s all-competition Golden Boot lead.
RSL – along with former LAFC players Musovski and Arango – arrives at Tuesday’s tilt with both a perfect 5-0-0 record in elimination games this year (four in U.S. Open Cup, one in Leagues Cup), as well an active 11-game unbeaten run on the road, as Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni’s team bounces back from a group stage loss against Monterrey on July 22, the Claret-and-Cobalt’s lone loss since May 31. Throughout the last 100 days, RSL has played 17 of the 25 games on three or four days rest while navigating MLS and Open Cup action; during this period, RSL has seen 28 different players appear, RSL earning eight wins and six draws against just three losses in these short rest / heavy rotation contests.
RSL and LAFC are each tied for second in the MLS West standings on 37 points, four points behind leaders St. Louis and one point ahead of Seattle, although LAFC does have one fewer game played. All-time, RSL owns just two wins against LAFC in 13 matches across all competitions, RSL winning at home in 2020, with its most memorable moment in the series coming in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs at what is now BMO Stadium, a game that saw an improbable Damir Kreilach “karate kick” advance the Claret-and-Cobalt while eliminating LAFC from the postseason.
Tuesday’s RSL at LAFC winner will face Tuesday’s Monterrey v UANL Tigres winner in the upcoming Quarterfinal Round (likely next Saturday, Aug. 12), with the RSL/LAFC winner hosting either of the two Liga MX powers. Additional details regarding RSL’s participation in the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023, which will occur from July 21 – August 19 this Summer, amidst RSL’s 19th campaign, can be obtained at www.LeaguesCup.com.
Tuesday’s kickoff at LAFC – which won its lone Leagues Cup match with a 7-1 scoreline against visiting FC Juarez last Tuesday – starts at 8:30p MT on the Apple MLS Season Pass w/ Keith Costigan and Maurice Edu *(ENG) & Jorge Perez-Navarro and *Marcelo Balboa (SPN). For local coverage, tune in at 7:30p MT for KSL Radio pre-game w/ David James & Jay Nolly via www.KSLSports.com / 1280 AM / 97.5 FM and www.KSLNewsRadio.com / 1160 AM).