Sandy • Lack of discipline.
That was the first and last reason offered for what has to go down as one of Real Salt Lake's poorest performances of 2011. And that's saying something considering RSL was already coming off a lackluster effort days earlier.
Wednesday night before a record crowd of 20,762 at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL's defense fell apart. So did the maturity of its captain, Kyle Beckerman, as the Chicago Fire rode a three-goal performance by Marco Pappa to a 3-0 Major League Soccer victory.
"I'm really aggravated," RSL coach Jason Kreis said moments after watching his team give up seven combined goals in back-to-back games. "Every dangerous chance that was created in the first half was [due to a] lack of discipline, lack of discipline, lack of discipline.
"Kyle's ejection, a complete lack of discipline."
Pappa had already put the Fire (7-8-15) in front in the 10th minute on a sharp left-footed goal when, moments later, Chicago midfielder Daniel Paladini clipped Beckerman's heel.
Beckerman turned and drove his head like a haymaker into Paladini's chin. Referee Baldomero Toledo wasted no time whipping out the red card. Real (15-9-6) played the next 79 minutes a man down.
Beckerman left the locker room early and was not available to reporters. Kreis said the situation might have been building from a few early kicks delivered to Beckerman.
"But he's not making any excuses," Kreis said. "He knows it was a bad, bad error on his part."
The one bright spot for Real came in the 60th minute when midfielder Javier Morales entered the game for his first action since a severe ankle injury May. 7. Morales immediately took a free kick and connected with forward Fabian Espindola, who headed a ball wide of the goal.
"It looked a lot like the old Javi," RSL midfielder Will Johnson said. "It's probably the only positive you could take from tonight."
RSL had several moments to get on the scoreboard, most notably during a one-on-one inside the 18-yard box between forward Alvaro Saborio and Chicago goal keeper Sean Johnson. Saborio took a rough first touch on the ball, then shot wide in the 29th minute.
In a heated contest that saw three yellow cards and 26 fouls, Pappa scored his second goal in the 36th minute. Then, Pappa put the game away in the 75th minute.
On his previous scores, quick passes knifed through RSL's soft defense. The third goal was all Pappa, who ripped the net from the right angle.
"We actually started out quite well," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "I was disappointed to see us give up a goal on a throw in. That's something we talk about every day in training."
Which all goes back to Kreis' charge of a lack of discipline.
"When these guys don't have their backs against the wall, they tend to relax," Kreis said. "They forget to do the little things that it takes for this group to win."
Chicago Fire 3, RSL 0
R RSL allows a hat trick for the second consecutive game as Marco Pappa scores three times for Chicago.
• RSL captain Kyle Beckerman receives the team's sixth red card of the season.
• RSL remains in third place in the Western Conference.