If Real Salt Lake is going to return to the CONCACAF Champions League any time soon, it's going to find some other way to get there than by winning the U.S. Open Cup.
The club was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night, losing 2-0 to nemesis FC Dallas at sweltering Pizza Hut Park to remain winless against the Hoops on the road. The Hoops eliminated RSL from the Major League Soccer playoffs last season and have allowed only a single draw in 11 meetings in Texas.
"We didn't put in the right energy," coach Jason Kreis said after holding a lengthy closed-door team meeting after the game. "Just a lot of things just weren't right with it."
While the Hoops will meet either the Los Angeles Galaxy or Seattle Sounders in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup on Aug. 30, RSL must focus on its only remaining paths back to the Champions League winning either the Supporters Shield regular-season title or the MLS Cup championship.
That's hardly out of the question, but RSL surely will lament its missed chance to earn qualification much sooner.
Facing 99-degree temperatures at game time, the team played the Hoops without starting forward Alvaro Saborio and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Both were left home, Rimando while nursing an ankle injury and Saborio as apparent discipline for his sulking departure from the field when he was subbed off against the Hoops in a league game at Rio Tinto Stadium last weekend.
Seldom, then, did RSL threaten until it was too late.
FC Dallas claimed the lead in the 18th minute on a free kick by defender Jair Benitez that curled over the wall and out of the reach of diving goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
And though RSL came out more aggressively to start the second half, it was undone by a swift counter off a goal kick that ended with midfielder Jackson deftly chipping over Reynish from the edge of the box.
That made it 2-0 in the 54th minute, good enough for the Hoops to close up shop. In the end, they held RSL without a single shot on goal though midfielder Collen Warner did strike the crossbar late in the game.
"We need to move forward, we need to move forward quickly and we need to move forward together," Kreis said.
In short • FC Dallas eliminates RSL from the U.S. Open Cup with a quarterfinal win.
Key stat • RSL is 0-10-1 all-time on the road against FC Dallas.
Key moment • Jair Benitez swerves a free kick over the RSL wall in the 18th minute.