RSL finishes undermanned for third straight game in 4-2 loss to FC Dallas

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon (12) reaches down to congratulate Real forward Jefferson Savarino (7) after he scored a goal for Salt Lake, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Saturday, March 30, 2019.

Herriman • Things did not go well in the early going of Real Salt Lake’s Saturday evening against FC Dallas.

Not even a minute had passed before Real Salt Lake gave up a goal to FC Dallas. Minutes later, center back Erik Holt, who started the game after a solid performance last week against LAFC, left the game with an apparent ankle injury.

Then Damir Kreilach, getting knocked down in the midfield, got up and appeared to headbutt an FC Dallas player, causing the referee to show him a red card and eject him from the game. RSL finished with 10 players on the field in the 4-2 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Saturday marked the third consecutive loss for RSL, and the third consecutive game in which the team finished undermanned. In the last three games, Real has accumulated four red cards.

“It’s a regular three-game losing streak,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “It doesn’t matter how many players are on the field. … It doesn’t give me comfort that we lost because we were down a man. At all. At all.”

Kreilach will miss next week’s road game against the Seattle Sounders. He left the stadium before talking with media.

Petke was careful not to comment on officiating in regard to the red cards incurred by his players this season. After a reporter, in response to a question by Petke, said two of the four red cards issued were justified, the RSL coach agreed.

Center back Nedum Onuoha said he was not concerned about the team’s red card streak. In his mind, the majority of the red cards called on RSL were not warranted.

“I think if we had real ill-discipline, then it would be a bigger problem,” Onuoha said. “For me, I didn’t really see it that way.”

When asked whether or not there was anything to discuss with his players, Petke said, “Yeah, don’t get red cards. Simple as that.” But as he continued, he made the case that it maybe wasn’t that simple.

“How do you discuss that?” Petke said. “I played. There’s passion that goes into it. I’ve said it for 20 years now: The players aren’t robots.”

Petke said when situations come up that may lead to a red card, his players could find a way to control their emotions. But at the same time, he seemed to suggest that he understands why that would be difficult at times.

“This is coming from a coach who has never controlled his emotions one in 43 years on this earth,” Petke said. “So maybe it’s my fault. Maybe my vibe to them, maybe my intense — I don’t know. I’m not faulting them. It is what it is.”

Petke more strongly took credit for how RSL started the game, putting the blame on himself despite saying he felt the team had one of its strongest weeks of training this season.

“We came out, for whatever reason, a bit flat,” Petke said. “It all comes back to me.”

Petke said RSL “donated two goals and a red card,” and added that if the game had been 11-versus-11, Real would have won.

Forward Jefferson Savarino evened the score in the 31st minute, but Dallas kept coming, and swiftly.

“What killed us tonight was that every time we came back into the game with a one-goal difference, within a minute they scored the next one,” midfielder Albert Runsák told KMYU after the game.