SANDY, Utah – In 2010, Real Salt Lake were clicking on all cylinders for most of the season. When they suffered a disappointing loss to FC Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs, everybody within the organization took it extremely hard.
So how does this year’s loss in the Western Conference Championship to the LA Galaxy compare?
“I’ll be honest, it feels the same, it really does,” head coach Jason Kreis told the media earlier this week. “It shouldn’t. I know it shouldn’t. We did so many good things this year and we faced so many adversities, so many difficult circumstances for the coaching staff, and the players, and this, that and the other.”
It’s true that his squad faced adversity in 2011 and limped into the playoffs with a six-game winless streak. They were clearly the underdog, not only in the match against LA, but also in the Western Conference Semifinals, in which they upset the favored Seattle Sounders.
“We made it a step further – let’s face it – and we’re in the conference final against the team that spends the second most in the league,” continued Kreis. “You’ve got David Beckham on your team and Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan; you ought to win. And to play that game at home and all things considered, you ought to beat Real Salt Lake.
“But for some reason, I can’t let it go at the moment,” continued Kreis. “I felt like in my heart, and I would have never said this to anybody else, I felt we were going to win it again.”
General manager Garth Lagerwey was also disappointed with the final result, but felt like his squad accomplished a lot.
“I think it’s a season where we overcame quite a bit to finish third in the league,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that we made it back in CONCACAF. [We] fought and scrapped for everything, and I think played a conference final that I think most folks felt were the two best teams in the league that were left, and lost the game that probably could have gone either way.”
For Lagerwey, his team came up short in fulfilling what he sees as the mission of the club.
“As the general manager of the club, when I signed on, I told Mr. [Dave] Checketts that we’d try to be among elite teams every year and compete for championships,” Lagerwey said. “And I felt like we competed for championships on a number of fronts this year and lost a conference final, and lost a Champions League final, and that stinks.
“We’ve had two years of playing pretty good with no titles to show for it, and that’s disappointing, but I think we’ve got a really good team. I think we performed as well as we could under the circumstances.”