Real Salt Lake frustrated after ‘unacceptable’ result against Austin

Djitte’s hat trick leads Austin over Real Salt Lake 3-0.

Real Salt Lake midfielder Braian Ojeda (88) reacts after an Austin FC score during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Austin, Texas • Austin is headed to the playoffs.

RSL’s playoff push took another hit.

Austin beat Real Salt Lake 3-0 Wednesday night as Moussa Djitte scored his first career hat trick, all in the second half.

“It’s unacceptable at this point of the season,” RSL defender Justen Glad said. “When we’re playing like that and we’re on top of them for 60 minutes, to have a 3-0 result is unacceptable.”

Austin (16-9-6), which started play in 2021, became the second Western Conference team to clinch a berth this season after first-place Los Angeles FC.

RSL (11-10-10) currently sits in seventh place in the West, three points ahead of the Galaxy.

“‘Frustrated’ is putting it nicely,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “You have to compete the right way. It has to mean something, you have to go out and give everything you have, you have to sacrifice your body, you have to get out there and be willing to lose your head. There’s dogs out here that want to win the damn game, so we have to go out and win the damn game. It’s about moments and plays, and tonight wasn’t good enough.”

RSL has now earned just one point over its last three matches.

In Austin, Mastroeni called out his substitutes.

“You can’t keep saying we’re playing well and not get results,” Mastroeni said. “I thought for 60 minutes we played some of our best stuff in a very difficult place to play. When players come into games, they have to make a positive change. They have to bring a level of desire, competitiveness, you have to bring a spark, you have to be able to change the game in a good way. You make those changes, and you don’t have the same type of control of the game. You don’t have the same type of fight. That part’s the most frustrating because I’m so proud of guys like Rubio [Rubin], Anderson [Julio], [Diego] Luna, really, the guys who started the game, for the most part, played fantastic. So how many times can you say we’re playing well and not get that result?”

Djitte scored in the 60th minute, running onto Diego Fagundez’s diagonal pass and flicking the ball over goalkeeper Zac MacMath from just inside the 6-yard box.

Djitte doubled the lead in the 76th with an 8-yard right-foot shot after Ethan Finlay’s attempt rebounded off the crossbar, then added another on a counterattack in the 80th from Ruben Gabrielsen’s pass.

The Senegalese forward, who turns 23 next month, had scored one previous goal this season, against Orlando on May 22. He joined Major League Soccer after spending 2018-19 with Sion in Switzerland and 2019-21 with Grenoble in the French second tier.

Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver made six saves.

RSL hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.

“I think so, maybe not physically but mentally it’s for sure good,” Glad said of the quick turnaround. “We know what we have to do. We’ve got three games left. There’s only one option in my mind, which is to make the playoffs. I don’t care what it takes, whether it’s bunkering down for 90 minutes and booting the ball forward and getting goals that way, whatever it takes at this point to win games. That’s where my head’s at and that’s where the team’s head has to be at in my opinion.”

While RSL has three matches left, the Galaxy will have four chances to move up the table. So the pressure is on RSL.

“That’s why I’m so animated because the moment is now,” Mastroeni said. “And oftentimes, as a player, having been a player, you think you’re going to play forever. And you think, ‘next year will be great,’ and having experienced that, it just doesn’t happen like that. Every moment is your moment.”