Commerce City, Colo • The word began to circulate the Real Salt Lake locker room as soon as the match ended: Dallas had lost. RSL was still in the playoff race.
“We’re going to fight till the end just like we did tonight,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “Next week’s a huge game for us.”
It was a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal night for RSL. Thanks to an early Colorado goal, RSL fell to the Rapids 1-0 Sunday. Dallas too failed to pick up three points, which would have eliminated RSL from the playoff hunt, in a 4-0 loss to Seattle.
RSL suffered just its third loss in its last 14 games to a team that was long ago eliminated from playoff contention. Real Salt Lake (12-15-6, 42 points) slid down to eighth place.
Meanwhile, Houston clinched a playoff berth and San Jose jumped both RSL and Dallas.
“I put us in the hole early with that early goal,” RSL center back David Horst said. “… That enabled them to sit back the rest of the game, and whenever a team does that they’re hard to break down.”
Colorado scored its lone goal of the game in the third minute.
After a throw-in, Rapids midfielder Mohammed Saeid passed to Alan Gordon in the center of the field. Gordon flicked the ball behind him into a gap between RSL defenders.
Colorado’s Joshua Gatt took off after the ball, switching directions to lose Horst. Behind RSL’s back line, Gatt one-timed a shot past Nick Rimando to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead.
That go-ahead goal in the third minute was the second MLS goal of Gatt’s career. He scored the first against RSL as well, coming off the bench in Colorado’s 4-1 loss on Aug. 26.
RSL responded by taking 30 shots in the match, seven on goal. None went in.
Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard, fresh off two starts with the Unites States national team, made seven saves to hold onto that 1-0 lead.
Real Salt lake drops to eighth in the Western conference with loss to Colorado
RSL escapes elimination from playoff contention thanks to Dallas’ 4-0 loss at Seattle
Tony Beltran leaves the field with a knee injury.
Colorado took two shots all match, one on goal. But that one was the one that mattered.
Real Salt Lake came close to equalizing several times in the second half.
In the 63rd minute, Luis Silva narrowly missed a cross from Brooks Lennon. He came sliding in tightly marked. RSL earned the corner kick, giving it the chance to reset.
Albert Rusnák took the corner, sending a well-struck ball across the face of the net. RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman rose above the defense to get his head on the ball. He flicked it down, but his header had too much force and the ball bounced over the net.
In the 78th minute, RSL still trailed Colorado by a goal, so RSL went to three men in the back. Midfielder Sebastian Saucedo replaced defender Danilo Acosta to give RSL an offensive boost.
RSL also had to use a substitution early on for an injury. Tony Beltran left the match in the 28th minute with a knee injury.
“Tony got hurt pretty bad,” Petke said. “He got whacked pretty bad. So I don’t have an update on what that means exactly for next weekend or anything like that, but right now he’s hurt.”
RSL’s last game of the regular season is scheduled for next Sunday, decision day, against rival Sporting Kansas City.