SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis didn’t mince any words after Wednesday night’s 3-0 home loss to the Chicago Fire. He was angry and frustrated at his team’s second consecutive three-goal defeat. And he was more than clear on what his team’s failing was.
“I’m really, really aggravated,” explained the RSL boss after the match. “For me, [it was] a complete lack of discipline to give away a goal on a throw-in which we harp [on] again and again. To give a goal away that softly just to me is a complete lack of discipline by every player that’s in that area of the field.”
That ninth-minute play resulted in the opening score by Chicago as Marco Pappa found himself open in the penalty area with nothing but RSL ‘keeper Nick Rimando in front of him.
Two minutes later things went from bad to worse, as captain Kyle Beckerman threw an ill-timed head-butt at midfielder Daniel Paladini and saw a red card as a result.
“And then Kyle’s ejection,” continued Kreis, “[was] a complete lack of discipline.”
That lack of discipline has resulted in Real Salt Lake getting outscored a whopping 7-1 over their last two matches. Prior to these pair of games, the team had only given up 23 goals in the other 28 matches on the season.
Four days after Dwayne De Rosario’s hat trick on RSL, it was Pappa who this time did the deed on Kreis’ men. Those two individual performances against Salt Lake are two of only 10 hat tricks in the league this entire season. That’s a surprising development for a team that – coming into those two matches – was touted as one of the best defensive teams in the league.
“After conceding four goals against D.C. in the first half – they were actually some pretty good goals – I think that’s going to happen maybe once a season where you have a game like that,” explained center back Nat Borchers. “But for it to happen two games in a row it is disappointing, and I think if there is going to be a wake-up call, it’s right now.”
As a result, Real Salt Lake are in another downward trajectory, dropping two games in a row for the third time this season and likely taking themselves out of the Supporters’ Shield race just in time for Saturday’s trip to the LA Galaxy — the very team they’re chasing for the prize.
But for Kreis, it’s the performance more than the Shield race that’s most worrisome, especially with the playoffs less than a month away.
“I’m very worried,” he said of the back-to-back losses. “I won’t be sleeping tonight because, for me, to take two results like this in a row at this time of year could be critical. The questions now are in front of the players, how will they react.”