Sandy • Make no mistake, Real Salt Lake placed plenty of emphasis on Saturday’s game with FC Dallas.
RSL, back in the friendly confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, sought to turn around a three-game road losing streak. Instead, as it did in July, the friendly confines turned ugly as FC Dallas stole a 2-1 victory in extra time.
Just as RSL was battling to take the lead in a game it had dominated and finally tied with 15 minutes to play, Dallas (8-11-8) midfielder David Ferreira took advantage of a huge defensive positioning error and scored the game-winner.
It was shades of San Jose and Los Angeles, which came into Rio Tinto earlier this season and took advantage of spotty defensive play.
"We’re in a very precarious position right now," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "We put a ton of emphasis on this game. I was very emotional with my team [Friday] and said, ‘Enough’s enough. We have nine [MLS] games left, and we need a positive, big-time reaction, and we need three points [Saturday] night, and we need to roll from there.’ "
Instead, looking to begin the stretch run toward the playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League play, RSL burst out of the gate and stumbled to its knees.
Not that Real (13-10-3) didn’t play well. It did. RSL did everything but win the game, thanks in part to the brilliant play of Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. Now it must get ready for a CCL match with Tauro FC of Panama on Tuesday.
"We played good soccer at times, but in the end a couple of individual mistakes killed us," said RSL defender Tony Beltran, who was involved in both Dallas goals. "We knew Dallas was good on the counterattack … but obviously I didn’t do a good job there at the end. On the second goal, I probably should have taken a yellow or a red card but unfortunately that happened and now we have to move on."
Real was pushing toward a second goal, and it looked — as it had most of the second half — that it was a matter of time before it would come. But the costly mistakes that had undermined Salt Lake during this now four-game skid once more appeared at the worst possible time.
In a game where RSL more than doubled Dallas’ offensive output, a clean shot from the extreme left by Dallas midfielder Fabian Castillo in the 61st minute gave Dallas a 1-0 lead.
While RSL players were looking for an offside flag, Castillo, on the end of a give-and-go with Ferreira, continued to play.
Then, down by a goal and with time running out, RSL found some inspiration late when midfielder Kyle Beckerman entered the game. The RSL midfielder had played 90 minutes for the United States on Wednesday and was not part of Saturday’s starting lineup.
A minute after Beckerman’s appearance, Alvaro Saborio headed in an equalizer from a corner kick by Javier Morales.
Can RSL move on from what has to be a terribly disappointing loss?
"There’s always a tendency to overreact and not put things into perspective," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "You have to say we did have a very good game for, you know, 88 minutes perhaps. We’ve just to shore up things defensively with counterattacks. But we definitely have something to build on with the chances we created with ball movement today.
"We have to slough this one off and move forward with another challenge with Champions League. It’s really all or nothing right now."
The first half was dominated more by on-field antics than good play.
Although each side had clear shots on goal, physical play and yellow cards — three issued to RSL — created a chaotic 45 minutes.
Wholesale changes in the RSL starting lineup also appeared to created a lack of timing between the midfielders and forwards.
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