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Real Salt Lake hope to improve playoff position vs. Austin FC

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Real Salt Lake will look to get back to winning and move closer to clinching a spot in the playoffs when they square off on the road against hapless Austin FC on Saturday in a late-season Western Conference match with postseason implications.

RSL (11-10-6, 39 points) head to Austin for their first time ever after a key 2-1 home win over the LA Galaxy on Wednesday. Damir Kreilach and Anderson Julio scored in the win, with Julio netting the game-winner five minutes into second-half stoppage time. RSL extended their home unbeaten run to seven games (6-0-1) dating back to July 21.

“We showed that we are mentally ready anytime to win a game,” Kreilach said after Wednesday’s victory. “It wasn’t the best game, but at the end of the day, who cares. Three points are on our account, and that’s what counts.”

Real Salt Lake begin the weekend in fifth place in the West, one spot and four points out of a guaranteed first-round home playoff match with seven matches to play. RSL are just one point up on the sixth-place Galaxy and two in front of Minnesota, making a win in Saturday’s match crucial for the visitors.

Expansion Austin FC (6-17-4, 22 points) return home for their third match in a seven-day period after a disappointing 3-0 loss at playoff-bound Colorado on Wednesday. Austin was shut out for the 14th time and rests at the bottom of the West standings, five points in arrears of 12th-place Houston with seven matches remaining.

Their 17 losses are the most in MLS, two more than Toronto and Chicago.

Austin, just three days removed from a scintillating win at home over the Galaxy on Sunday, lined up with seven different starters against Colorado and never found its stride, in the process dropping its sixth game in its past seven outings.

In hindsight, Austin coach Josh Wolff said he thought his roster selection and the shape on his team in Wednesday’s loss was an error.

“We wanted to be in a position to get some points and come home and have some freshness and go for the win Saturday,” Wolff said. “I told the guys to not let this affect them, that I messed this up, and let’s go out and get one.”

Real Salt Lake captured the only other match between the teams this season, winning 1-0 at home on Aug. 14.

–Field Level Media

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