SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake started the day in second place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference.
But things can change quickly in a division where as few as six points separate seven of the top-eight teams.
Darwin Quintero had a brace for Minnesota, which overcame Albert Rusnak's early goal, to take a 3-1 win Sunday afternoon over Real Salt Lake at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Ethan Finlay added a goal for the Loons (14-10-6, 48 points), who snapped a two-match skid with their second win in six matches.
"It's obviously not like we wanted it," RSL interim head coach Freddy Juarez said on KMYU. "I'll take blame and responsibility for a lot of this one. We opened up the game a bit too much with possession … and were a little bit too spread out.
"We had very good moments, but in the end, maybe opened up too much. That’s might fault."
Rusnak gave Real Salt Lake (14-12-4, 46 points) a lead just 17 minutes in, squibbling a kick from the edge of the box past Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
It was Rusnak's 10th goal of the season, the most on the team and the first since Aug. 14 for the multi-million dollar attacking midfielder.
But the lead lasted barely three minutes. Failing to capitalize on the momentum of a 1-0 home win over San Jose on Wednesday, RSL had no answers for Quintero, the occasionally maligned striker who has 10 goals to go along with five assists for Minnesota in 2019.
Quintero equalized for the hosts, flashing his speed off a well-weighted through ball from Kevin Molino before dribbling around RSL's Nick Rimando for the empty-net score in the 20th minute.
Quintero doubled for the Loons just five minutes after halftime, blitzing RSL's defense on a counter attack before beating Rimando inside the near post to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
"When we see the whole game, we were not on the same page. That was the biggest problem," RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach said. "The first half was OK; we controlled the game, scored a fantastic goal, and then just gave up one.
"But in the second half, we didn’t react in the best way. Because of that, we lost the game."
Finlay finished it off for the Loons in the 81st minute. The second-half sub strolled to the end of a cross from Romain Metanire and casually stroked home the fourth goal of the night to cap Minnesota's rally with three points.
Minnesota gave up 61 percent of possession to Real Salt Lake, but outshot the visitors 18-13 and held RSL to just five shots on target.
"Every game means something. But you've got to put it away and learn from this," Juarez said. "We can't blame everyone. I’ve got to learn from this. We’re going to be in the playoffs, and we’ve got to learn from this — when we have the ball and when we don’t have the ball."
The loss, combined with Seattle's 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls later Sunday afternoon, drops RSL from second place to fourth in the tightly-packed Western Conference. Minnesota briefly leapfrogged RSL to second place, only to be jumped itself by Seattle in a fast-changing rotation.
"We came here to take at least a point," Kreilach said. "Of course, we want to win, too. But at the end of the day, it wasn't our day, we have to learn, and we have to prepare for the next game against New England. We have to try to take three points in Boston."
Real Salt Lake continues its road trip next Saturday, Sept. 21 against New England. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MDT on KMYU and streamed on KSL.com.