It was a night to forget for Real Salt Lake, as their defense uncharacteristically broke down multiple times against a tough Western Conference opponent.
Despite going ahead in the 53rd minute, RSL were outplayed and outworked for the final 30 minutes and the LA Galaxy rattled off four straight goals to bury the visitors 4-2 on Saturday at the StubHub Center.
RSL weathered the first half storm and were fortunate to enter the break tied 0-0. Only some desperate defending and individual effort kept the Galaxy off the scoreboard. Head coach Jason Kreis praised his backline for their performance, but admitted that his team couldn’t hope to sustain such an effort and get a result against a team like the Galaxy.
“[Tony] Beltran, [Chris] Wingert, [Nat] Borchers, Carlos [Salcedo], those guys made some sliding and lunging tackles to save plays in the first half,” said Kreis. “I think you have to feel if you’re going to have to do that all night at some point, it’s going to give, and it gave in the second half for sure.”
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando agreed with his coach, saying that RSL weren’t playing to their usual standard.
“They had the better chances,” he told reporters. “They were fresh, sharp. The first half and second half, we weren’t as sharp as we want to be, especially defensively. It’s definitely humbling and they’re the past champions for a reason. It’s good to go against these guys and see where we’re at and know that next time, we gotta be better.”
“We just were a bit sloppy,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. “It wasn’t our best game but we hung in there. It was a game of momentum.”
Beckerman cited Keane's second goal, in the 67th minute, as the ultimate turning point in the game.
“I think we were starting to get the momentum at 1-1 after they scored,” Beckerman said. “We were starting to get it back. It seemed to be a corner kick, turned into a goal kick and next thing you know, they scored. Then I think we got stretched and Keane will make you pay on any mistake.”
It was an uncharacteristic performance for an RSL side that prides themselves on making smart, efficient passes.
“We give the ball away cheaply in poor spots, they’re right on top of you and with the dangerous players they have there in front of goal it can make things extremely difficult,” Kreis said. “Another night that I just don’t think that we’ve been good enough with the ball.”