Frisco, Texas • Jason Kreis has coached 230 soccer games with Real Salt Lake. As a player, his career included hundreds more matches. And in that time, those decades, he’s learned this: A soccer game, despite “a ton of plays and a ton of moments” usually can be distilled to one or two that mattered most.
In RSL’s 2-0 loss in front of 11,181 at FC Dallas Stadium on Saturday, those moments came in the 77th and 78th minute, when both Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia — on his first career MLS touch, no less — came within inches of scoring and tying the game at 1-1.
“If we score that,” center back Nat Borchers said, “maybe it’s a different game.”
Sandoval’s chance came on a follow after FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz, a former RSL player, saved a shot in the box by Robbie Findley. However, a sliding Matt Hedges saved what appeared to be a sure goal as Sandoval attempted to tuck the shot into the net.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Sandoval, the first-year player from New Mexico. “I thought I had it.”
On the ensuing corner kick, Garcia’s header clanked off the near post.
“I think if either one of those goes in,” Kreis said, “we’re having a lot different conversation and having a lot different feelings about ourselves.”
Salt Lake (1-2-1) played minus 11 players, five due to national team call-ups and six more to injury and illness.
“I don’t remember too many times or too many teams to have 11 players unable to play in a match,” Kreis said.
The loss kept RSL winless at FC Dallas and in the state of Texas. It is 0-19-3 all-time in the Lone Star state and 0-11-2 at FC Dallas.
Captain Kyle Beckerman, goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and forward Alvaro Saborio were all on national team duty for the World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Costa Rica on Friday. Starting midfielder Sebastian Velasquez was sick and a late scratch.
“Credit to the other 19 that were available for this game,” Kreis said. “I think they fought extremely hard.”
One of those 19, though, could be found in the postgame locker room, hunched into his locker. Josh Saunders, who made his first RSL start in place of Rimando, placed much of the blame for the loss on himself.
He felt he misplayed a shot by Fabian Castillo in the 71st minute that grabbed the top of the net and gave Dallas a 1-0 edge. Then, in the 81st minute, Dallas defender Jackson challenged Saunders in the box and dislodged the ball, which trickled into the net for Dallas’ second goal and insurance policy.
“I just took a bad touch,” Saunders said of the second, “and didn’t make an initiative to put it out there. Regardless of what I was trying to do, I was trying to be too cute and take a second touch and didn’t quite get it off.”
Saunders, who recorded five saves, was not buying the team’s absent players as an excuse.
“Depleted or not,” he said, “we’re still all pros. We’re here to do a job, and whoever you put on the field, you expect them to do a job.”
Storylines Short-handed Real loses
R Real Salt Lake fails to score despite golden opportunities in the 77th and 78th minutes and loses 2-0.
• Former RSL goalkeeper Chris Seitz tallied three saves to record his first shutout since Aug. 29, 2009, when he played for Salt Lake.
• RSL was minus 11 players, either due to injury, illness or national team duty.