Sandy • Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson, for one, is ready for a return to Major League Soccer competition.
After a 0-0 draw with Herediano eliminated RSL from the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday night, Johnson was unhappy with the style of play his team encountered.
Vancouver at RSLSaturday, 7 p.m.
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Herediano needed a draw to advance and seemed content to play for one, especially in the second half, which frustrated Real Salt Lake.
Coach Jason Kreis thought Herediano "would play more soccer" and felt the referee’s decision to add only four minutes of stoppage time was insufficient. Johnson criticized the Costa Rican club for "diving" and "time-wasting."
"That’s the ugly side of CONCACAF," he said. "… So I think the guys are looking forward to getting back to MLS play and some real football."
Real Salt Lake returns to work Saturday night against Vancouver in the regular-season finale at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Despite being locked into a first-round playoff matchup against Seattle, RSL could use a victory to erase its Champions League disappointment.
After outshooting Herediano 18-6 but settling for the draw, Kreis said, "In some ways it’s a good thing we have another game on Saturday — another match to turn right around and get focused on."
In the 16th minute against Herediano, Nat Borchers appeared to score the all-important first goal. But the referee ruled he fouled while clearing space for himself in the box and waved it off.
"It was pretty clear which team dominated, which team had the better position and who won more of the 50-50 balls," Borchers said. "We were more dangerous. We just couldn’t find that final touch, and that was the difference in the result."
Can RSL can get back on track against the Whitecaps?
"We’ll just try and pick ourselves up and turn it around," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We’ve got some really important games coming up, so we can still have a good season if we get our stuff together."
Said Borchers: "Obviously we didn’t lose, but it feels like a loss. It was another result where we defended quite well and we attacked quite well.
"We had them in their end of the field the whole game. … It’s something that we can move forward with and be very positive about."
Beyond improving its emotional state, a win over Vancouver would keep alive Real Salt Lake’s hope of ending up as the No. 2 seed in the West.
Such a finish could improve RSL’s chance of receiving an invitation to play in the 2013-14 Champions League.
The three points gained by beating the Whitecaps would also help Real Salt Lake’s chance of hosting the MLS Cup final, if it gets that far in the playoffs. The home team will be determined by point totals during the season.
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