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May 31, 2024 8:02 pm

Facing Austin FC, RSL aim to extend unbeaten streak to 13

Andres Gomez

Real Salt Lake will look to extend their 12-match unbeaten run on Saturday when they host an Austin FC side that recently had its own winning streak snapped.

Salt Lake (8-2-6, 30 points) have used very late drama to extend that streak in their last two matches and maintain their hold of the Western Conference lead.

Last Saturday, they overcame a three-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw at FC Dallas when Nelson Palacio leveled in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time. Then on Wednesday night, Andres Gomez scored a minute later than that to secure a 1-1 draw at Seattle in a wild finish that also saw a potential second Sounders goal disallowed.

Gomez’s eighth goal of the season underscored the fact that Salt Lake are more than just MLS MVP candidate Cristian Arango, who despite his MLS lead-tying 13 goals was used off the bench on Wednesday. And it bolstered manager Pablo Mastroeni’s belief that he’s coaching a side of exceptional resilience.

“If you don’t believe you have a chance, there’s no way you’re going to score. But these guys, it’s almost like they go in this — you know, they override their brains and they let their spirits take over,” Mastroeni said. “I can’t say enough about this group.”

Austin (6-5-5, 23 points) had won five straight at home before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night and in the process potentially losing leading scorer Sebastian Driussi for an extended period.

Driussi had a 16th-minute penalty kick saved by Portland’s James Pantemis, then departed in the 60th with a lower-body injury. Afterward, he suggested in an Instagram post that his return to action wouldn’t be immediate.

Austin coach Josh Wolff believed his side’s run may have continued if Driussi had converted from the spot to add to his five regular-season goals.

“I think you get the goal … the game is what we expect it to be,” Wolff said. “We’re gonna have the ball, we’re gonna push the opponent back.”

–Field Level Media

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