Santa Clara, Calif. • Long after it was over, in the halls of an small, elite college, he sat on an orange Gatorade cooler, the heel of his palm pressed into his jaw. A light dress shirt hung untucked over whitewashed jeans, which extended to dusty, once-white sneakers.
A product of a different elite university, forever immaculate in dress, stoic in strength and precise in speech, on Saturday Jason Kreis more closely resembled a prep schooler who had just failed a major exam.
Kreis was as uncharacteristic in defeat as his team was throughout.
In a 5-0 loss to San Jose, RSL was never quite right: lazy passes, unforced errors, teammates berating teammates. Oh, and Chris Wondolowski netted a hat trick, although his first goal would have been enough.
It was a third loss to the Earthquakes, the second-most lopsided in club history. Yet, laughably, entering Saturday it provided an avenue to first place for RSL.
“They just don’t get any bigger than this one was, so I don’t understand how it’s even possible that you wouldn’t be completely up for a night like this and ready to roll,” Kreis said, “right from minute one.”
The game completely escaped RSL’s grasp in the 58th minute, because what would a game at Buck Shaw Stadium be without a red card?
With RSL trailing 1-0, Kyle Beckerman retaliated for a foul on Javier Morales. It led to a near-brawl, which in turn precipitated a red-card ejection for Beckerman.
“The red card is the reason why we lost that game,” Beckerman said. “If it’s 11-v-11, it’s going to be a much more even game.”
In the stadium where RSL lost 3-1 on April 21 after losing two players to red cards, Saturday’s loss had a familiar vibe.
Alan Gordon scored in the 64th minute, while Wondolowski added his final two in the 73rd and 80th minute, with a goal by Simon Dawkins in between them.
Wondolowski’s second goal left RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando screaming at Kenny Mansally, who started in place of injured Tony Beltran and let the scoring king slip free.
RSL was at a disadvantage from the beginning. Starters Beltran, center back Nat Borchers and midfielder Ned Grabavoy all stayed home with injuries.
It wasn’t long after the start that RSL’s problems began. Jamison Olave awkwardly lost the ball on the endline for a corner kick.
“I think that there were a few guys that for whatever reason sleepwalked into that game,” Kreis said. “[Olave] was one of them.”
RSL owned first place in the Western Conference before losing 2-1 to San Jose on June 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Last week, Kreis called Saturday’s game a chance for a statement.
“A statement was made to us,” Kreis said, “that San Jose’s a much better team than us right now.”
Storylines San Jose 5, RSL 0
R Real Salt Lake was swept in a three-game series by a Western Conference opponent for the second time in club history.
• RSL suffered its most lopsided defeat since it lost 6-0 to New York in 2006.
• League scoring leader Chris Wondolowski netted a hat trick for the Earthquakes.