When Real Salt Lake lost two home games last week, they felt like they gave the games away. The players and coaches concluded they truly had dominated, deserved to win and just had a couple of uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.
There weren’t any of those feelings on Saturday night after RSL fell 2-0 to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium for their third straight league loss.
RSL simply wasn’t good enough in any area to beat a Columbus team that put forth maximum effort and showed good form. The RSL forwards didn’t create enough scoring chances — nine total shots and only two on goal. The midfield didn’t do a good enough job linking the attack from the defensive zone, and once again, the defense gave up a couple of goals on a limited number of actual scoring chances.
“I think it was poor defending on our part,” said defender Nat Borchers after Saturday's match. “I think we made two mistakes, one off the run of play and one off a set piece and they punished us for it. We didn’t punish them for their mistakes. We had some chances and we just didn’t get the job done.”
Real could look for excuses, like the fact the team had almost 24 hours without power at their hotel due to storms that struck the Columbus area on Friday and delayed the start of Saturday's game by an hour. The lack of electricity in nearly triple-digit temperatures sent the team scurrying for anywhere that had electricity for air conditioning.
Highlights: CLB 2, RSL 0
“It’s not ideal, but the biggest issue was the uncertainty involved,” said head coach Jason Kreis of the situation his team encountered in Columbus. “I think that in situations like this there should be a backup plan in place so we could move forward with it quickly.”
Another easy excuse could be the fact that three key cogs in the RSL machine were missing — captain Kyle Beckerman was back in Salt Lake for a yellow-card accumulation suspension, and defender Jamison Olave (calf) and midfielder Ned Grabavoy (adductor strain) didn’t make the trip.
“Only thing wrong with having that type of mentality about how important your players are is that you demean the other players and for me there’s no reason to do that. The guys came in and gave it everything they had,” Kreis said.
But in the end, the simple truth is that the Claret-and-Cobalt are not playing to the same form that saw them go unbeaten in their last five road games.
“You like to make excuses in this business, but you can’t,” Borchers said. “I think we did everything we could to prepare physically and mentally for this game and they went through it, too. We just didn’t bring our ‘A’ game tonight.”
RSL (10-6-2, 32 points) are in an unfamiliar situation -- the last time RSL dropped three consecutive games was in 2007, only two months after Kreis took over as coach -- and they don’t have long to figure out a way to avoid losing their fourth straight as they face the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in a Western Conference Independence Day clash.