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RSL show “what we’re capable of” in Leagues Cup blowout vs. León | MLSSoccer.com

RSL show “what we’re capable of” in Leagues Cup blowout vs. León | MLSSoccer.com

Trailing 1-0 at halftime of their Leagues Cup Round-of-32 match against Liga MX’s Club León, Real Salt Lake needed a big-time second half to keep their trophy dreams alive.

They certainly got one, flipping the one-goal deficit into a 3-1 victory, powered by a brace from Danny Musovski and an 81st-minute insurance tally from star midseason arrival Chicho Arango.

Friday’s result at America First Field delivered an impressive victory over the reigning Concacaf Champions League winners, and marked an emphatic bounce-back from RSL’s last match against a Mexican opponent – a 3-0 defeat to CF Monterrey in the Leagues Cup group stage on July 26.

“The guys made plays, it’s as simple as that,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame of a match that was delayed one day because of inclement weather. “I think Danny had a great game, Chicho had a great game, everyone had a great game.

“But I think in the first half we had a little bit of doubt, maybe coming off the last result. But the training week was great and just reminded them what quality we have in this locker room and what we’re capable of. And I think in the second half they showed that.”

Musovksi shines

He may not yet be a household name, but Musovski is certainly making his mark for RSL during 2023 in what is quickly becoming a breakout campaign. The 27-year-old had already scored five goals and added four assists in just over 1,000 minutes of MLS play this season, with Friday’s brace marking his biggest performance yet.

RSL trailed in the 69th minute of the match when Musovski scored the equalizer, then found the go-ahead tally just two minutes later to stun the visitors and give his side a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence at the moment, a lot of belief in himself and he’s helping out the team tremendously,” Mastroeni said of Musovski.

LAFC looming

Friday’s statement sets up a Round of 16 matchup Tuesday evening at LAFC, the 2022 MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield winners who fell to León in the 2023 CCL final. It also pits both of RSL’s goalscorers in Friday’s match against their former club.

Musovksi played for the Black & Gold from 2020-22. Arango, meanwhile, established himself as one of the league’s most-feared No. 9s during his run with LAFC from 2021-22, scoring 30 goals in 51 games before making his MLS return with RSL following a brief foray with Pachuca in Liga MX.

Aside from that storyline, Mastroeni said his team is relishing the opportunity to continue their ascent into the MLS elite. RSL were among the league’s hottest teams entering Leagues Cup play, with Arango’s arrival fueling a rise to third place on the Western Conference standings (10W-7L-7D, 37 points).

“I think against LAFC it’s an entirely different game,” Mastroeni said in Spanish. “We know them better, we know their players, we know their style. We haven’t had much success against them over the years, but I also think we’re a different team now. And with Chicho playing prior for them, I think it’s going to be a key game for him. But also just the entire team. We keep improving and playing with confidence with the players we have, we can get far.

“We want to be one of the best teams in MLS,” he added. “But of course that takes time and results like today definitely help that.”

WATCH: Down goes León! Real Salt Lake complete Leagues Cup stunner

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