SANDY, Utah — The well has dried up. And it finally caught up to Real Salt Lake in a big way on Tuesday night.
After a torrid streak at the end of August where they scored 13 goals in four games, the league leaders in goals now have struggled to put the ball in the net, scoring only twice in their last four matches.
And that cold streak came back to bite them on Tuesday night, when they were shut out by D.C. United in a 1-0 loss in the US Open Cup final.
"I don't know that you can really explain why we aren't scoring," defender Chris Wingert told MLSsoccer.com after the deflating defeat. "I mean, we are getting chances. Even in the last 10 seconds, we hit the bar like three times. It is frustrating that we can't seem to finish all the chances we are getting."
RSL completely dominated possession and dictated the attack for nearly the entire game. They outshot D.C. 10-2, with six on frame. Of course, plenty of credit goes to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, whom Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis singled out as “quality" in his postgame press conference.
But even after falling behind just before the break, RSL came out and created more chances. Yet it still was not to be.
"I think the guys came out in the second half,” Kreis said. “You saw the energy early on. We were right at them again, but for just for one reason or another, [we] just couldn't bundle the ball over the end line, and unfortunately that is the only thing that matters.
“It is the only statistic that matters. It is the only thing that anybody will remember is that we lost our third championship opportunity in our stadium."
RSL's leading scorer Álvaro Saborío came into Tuesday's match rusty, not having played a game in a month after injuring his calf training with Costa Rica. Javier Morales has eight MLS goals, but was lost in the attack more often than being dangerous.
The list of usual candidates Kreis counts on who went silent Tuesday night is long: Olmes García, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy and Kyle Beckerman. And RSL surely missed Luis Gil, who sat out after having his his appendix removed Sunday evening — a day after playing a full 90 minutes in Vancouver.
But the Claret-and-Cobalt were left searching for someone to step up and grab the moment.
"It is almost like we’ve got guys that are waiting for somebody else to take the responsibility and the accountability to make a special play," said Kreis. "And at this time of year, everybody needs to be ready, responsible and accountable to make the play that will put us over the top."