Here are three takeaways from Real Salt Lake’s 2-0 loss to Los Angeles FC.
1. LAFC clinched a playoff spot, but RSL didn’t jeopardize its position
Here are the Major League Soccer standings above the playoff line after the slate of games on Saturday.
Notice anything? The second-year expansion team from Los Angeles, with a whopping 58 points, is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs — even with nine games left to play and a possible 27 points up for grabs.
Notice something else? RSL is still fourth in the Western Conference, even after suffering only its second loss in the past 11 weeks. So even though a hard-fought game ended somewhat unceremoniously, Real didn’t lose any ground. They’re still in the highest position they’ve been in all season. They still have plenty of opportunities to move up the table.
Minnesota and the L.A. Galaxy tied their games, so that really helped RSL’s position as well. One win would vault Salt Lake into second place in the West. And losing against LAFC, which is so far ahead of everyone else, is not really much of a disappointment this season.
But Kyle Beckerman said the team was disappointed. And Corey Baird said he felt they might have let some points slip away.
But it turned that RSL got the best possible outcome, all things considered. The club can go into next week in virtually the same position as before the LAFC game, and that’s not a bad place to be.
2. Carlos Vela makes history
The LAFC forward provided the game-winner against RSL with his penalty kick in the 64th minute after Aaron Herrera took him down in the 18-yard box. The goal put his season totals at 24 goals and 15 assists, making him the only player in MLS history to have that many goal involvements in a single season.
That seems baffling considering what Josef Martinez did for Atlanta United last year. But Vela has done it not just with scoring but setting up his teammates. It’s a feat that cements Vela as one of the best MLS players of all time.
“It’s a good thing and good feeling to break some records for myself and for the team, because it would not be possible to break these records without the team,” Vela said. “We are really happy to be playing this well.”
Against RSL, Vela tallied five shots (two on goal) and had two key passes.
3. Two key RSL players will miss the next game
With Herrera’s red card and Corey Baird picking up his fifth yellow card on Saturday, both will miss Real’s next game due to suspension.
Before LAFC, Baird had scored three goals in two games. As for Herrera, he’s been a staple at the right back position and has played well since moving there earlier in the season.
Although RSL is playing the 11th-place Colorado Rapids at home next weekend, it can’t afford to miss two of its most integral players who are also regular starters. The team will have the next-man-up mentality, but losing Baird and Herrera is still a blow on the field.