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Atlanta United falls 5-2 against Real Salt Lake at America First Field 

Resurgens

Atlanta United ended their double road match week with a 5-2 loss versus a strong Real Salt Lake team. There was a quick turnaround after the club played the New England Revolution in Foxborough on Wednesday. Much like that match against New England, this game was a tale of two different Atlanta United teams. While the start was shaky, the 5-Stripes managed to keep things together in the first half. But in the second half of the match, Real Salt Lake showed why they are one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

"For me we gave this one away, so I don’t want to be that kind of person that ebbs and flows with results, but I’ll dust myself off and go again, on this flight back I’ll be ready to go," said interim head coach Rob Valentino at the post-match press conference.

Only one minute into the first half, Real Salt Lake was able to push the ball up the field for the opening goal of the match. RSL midfielder Matt Crooks shot from right inside the box; the goal was assisted by Diego Luna and Braian Ojeda.

Despite the less-than-ideal start, the 5-Stripes were able to gather their composure and start creating scoring opportunities to pot a goal of their own. In the 11th minute, Daniel Ríos, who previously had three goals in his last five games, almost got Atlanta on the board with a header from in tight. Along with Ríos, Ronald Hernández was all over the final third for Atlanta. The stability from the midfield giving players the ability to come forward for scoring opportunities.

In the 21st minute, off a turnover from Salt Lake, Bartosz Slisz was able to get initial shot off which was stopped by RSL goalkeeper Gavin Beavers. Off the rebound, Ríos made a tough angle shot that went just off the side of the net.

Atlanta’s ease building out of the back paid off when they equalized in the 31st minute of the first half. After being away due to international duty participating in the 2024 Euros for his home country of Georgia, Saba Lobjanidze picked up where he left off. Ríos made a back heel flick pass to Lobjanidze who put the ball in the back of the net. Bartosz Slisz, who also missed time due to international duty for his home country got the secondary assist on the tying goal.

Recovering from the first five minutes of the match, the 5-Stripes ended the first half of the match with eight shots, three of which were on goal, to Real Salt Lake's two.

In the beginning of the second half of the match, Atlanta’s ability to continue to defend as a group was put to the test.

They weathered a bit of a storm as Salt Lake began to play around the 5-Stripes, focusing on the wings versus trying to build through the middle of the pitch. Only four minutes after ringing a shot off the post, Braian Ojeda re-gained the lead for Salt Lake in the 59th minute, collecting the rebound from a blocked shot inside the box off a corner kick before turning and finishing past Guzan.

"In the first half we did very well. Crap start but we got back into the game. I thought we defended very well in the first half. I think that was their only real chance. Then in the second half I think it was around the 60th minute when they scored their goal and it just wasn’t good enough," said defender Derrick Williams after the match.

Atlanta made their first substitutions as Tyler Wolff and Tristan Muyumba came in for Xande Silva and Dax McCarty.

With halftime adjustments working in their favor, Salt Lake doubled their lead in the 68th minute. Cristian Arango, the current MLS Golden Boot race leader, won his third header of the night off a set piece. This time he put it past Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan.

After a solid first half from Atlanta, RSL took over in the latter stages of the second half. Their fourth goal of the match came in the 78th minute from Alexandros Katrinas of another corner set piece.

"Whether it’s set pieces, whether it’s the first minute, whether it comes down to the fifth goal. That’s not good enough, that can’t be what breaks us," said Valentino. "If it’s a lot of good passes and breaking us down and side-to-side, that’s somewhat acceptable and you can say fair play but it’s not acceptable, nowhere near good enough, three goals like that from set pieces.”

Rios continued his hot scoring streak as he quickly got one back for Atlanta. He pulled the club back within two off a header of his own in the 80th minute, assisted by Brooks Lennon.

Real Salt Lake was not done yet as they put home their fifth and final goal of the night in the 84th minutes of the match. Diego Luna, who already assisted on three of the four previous goals, shot just right from of the box to put the home team up 5-2.

As time ticked down in the final minutes of the match homegrown Matthew Edwards made his MLS debut for the first team in the 89th minute after being subbed in for Hernandez.

After this road trip, Atlanta United now sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-10-6 (24 points).

Match Stats
Real Salt Lake
Atlanta United
Shots
12
14
Shots on target
6
4
Corner kicks
5
5
Fouls committed 
11
8
xG
1.9
1.6
Possession 
67.1%
37.9%
Passing accuracy
90.0%
81.7%

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