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Sandy • For Major League Soccer, the U.S. Open Cup’s round of 32 was bloody Tuesday.
Real Salt Lake added to MLS’ embarrassment by becoming one of the league’s eight victims to go down to defeat at the hands of so-called lesser competition.
Storylines Omen in third minuteRSL can’t clear the ball, and Minnesota takes the lead in the third minute on a Kevin Venegas header.
» Right before the half, the Stars take a 2-1 lead on a penalty kick by Neil Hlavaty.
"I’m embarrassed right now, to be honest with you," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "I can handle mistakes. I can handle missed chances … bad passes … mistakes defensively. I can’t handle when we don’t go out and try. We don’t go out and fight.
"We gave up in the last 15 minutes."
On Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, it was the Minnesota Stars who played like an MLS team during their convincing 3-1 victory against a lackluster and lacking — as in available roster players — RSL, which was ousted from the tournament.
It was the worst defeat at Rio Tinto since last year’s 3-0 decision to Chicago. RSL (9-4-2) falls to 5-8 in USOC play.
"Tonight the guys really had a good shape about them and an attitude about really pressing the play," Minnesota coach Manny Lagos said. "It made it difficult [for RSL] and it gave us the chance to relax."
Simone Bracalello cemented the victory for Minnesota (5-0-4) in the 58th minute when he took advantage of yet another RSL defensive snarl in front its own goal.
All that was left for a USOC-record, and despondent, crowd of 17,212 was to sing songs.
"We owe an apology to our fans," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "Because that was a terrific crowd here for an Open Cup match and we let them down miserably.
"We will go back to the drawing board a little bit and make sure everybody on my squad right now recognizes that there is only one way to play here, and that’s to give your best. And if you’re not going to, you need to stand up and you need to move aside."
Second-division Minnesota, which pushed forward from the opening whistle, took the lead in the third minute as RSL, in a glimpse of trouble to come, could not clear the ball from in front of its own goal.
Kevin Venegas’ stunning header signaled what was to become a long night.
Luis Gil tied the game with a brilliant shot in the 30th minute. Eight minutes later, Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOeklel made a pair of athletic stops within seconds of each other and it looked as if RSL might rebound.
Minnesota made it 2-1 right before half on a penalty kick following a controversial handball call in the 18-yard box against RSL defender Jamison Olave.
RSL, coming off an emotional victory against FC Dallas, was without two key components — keeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckerman, both doing national team duty.
Will Johnson and Alvaro Saborio were also gone, representing their countries.
In addition, Javier Morales and Chris Schuler were injured.
But, "at the end of it all, the score was fair because the effort just wasn’t good enough," Kreis said.
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