Cristian Arango scores hat trick in RSL’s win over Austin

Cristian Arango scored his second hat trick of the season and third of his MLS career to take control of the league’s scoring race as Real Salt Lake extended its unbeaten run to 13 league games with a 5-1 romp over Austin FC on Saturday night.

Arango’s 14th, 15th and 16th goals pushed the Colombian three ahead of D.C. United’s Christian Benteke and four in front of Miami’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Arango’s first of the night was his best, combining brilliant touch and vision to score on a perfectly weighted shot from midfield that arced over Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver and beneath the crossbar.

Anderson Julio added his fourth and fifth league goals as Salt Lake (9-2-6, 33 points) dominated from the early stages against an Austin side that was playing without its leading scorer, Sebastian Driussi.

Alex Ring converted a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time to give Austin (6-6-5, 23 points) a minor consolation in its fourth away goal this season.

Playing its first game since Driussi was forced off with an injury in a 2-0 home loss to Portland on Wednesday night, the visitors came in trying to sit deep against Salt Lake and attack on the counter.

But that tactic was made mostly moot by Arango, whose first goal sailed into the back of the net and set off a string of three Salt Lake tallies in 15 minutes

Arango added his second and RSL’s fourth in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time when he was unmarked at the back post and available to head Andrew Brody’s early diagonal ball past Stuver from close range.

Arango completed his scoring from the penalty spot on a convoluted sequence that originally appeared to be a late goal for Austin’s Jader Obrian.

Instead, referee Alexis Da Silva spotted a handball on Austin’s Brendan Hines-Ike in the opposite penalty area on a video review of the sequence that led to Obrian’s finish, and pointed to the spot.

Arango stuttered in his approach to the ball, getting Stuver to dive before sending a low finish in the opposite direction in the 71st minute. He exited eight minutes later to a standing ovation and chants of “M-V-P!, M-V-P!” from the home fans.

Salt Lake had 21 shots, 11 of them on goal, while Austin had 10 and four, respectively. Stuver made five saves, and Salt Lake’s Zac MacMath had three.

–Field Level Media