Since the beginning of Real Salt Lake's season, the club's players and coaches have tried to stay positive.
Saturday's 1-0 loss at home against the Columbus Crew made it more difficult than ever to keep the right attitude. And although RSL is sitting on a 0-5-1 record, the team intends to stick with what they believe is working.
"We have to keep going," defender Carey Talley said after the loss. "I feel that, to be honest, we were the better team tonight. There was one team out there most of the game, and it was us."
The numbers reflect Talley's feeling. RSL took 11 shots to Columbus' four. The home team put six shots on goal, compared to two for the Crew. RSL earned six corner kicks, compared to one for the visitors.
The course of play also verifies Talley's analysis. RSL clearly dominated possession, making Columbus chase the ball and wear down. But, as it always seems to happen, the opposition took advantage of the one good opportunity it had.
"Tonight we came out with the offensive mindset and we did a great job, but we didn't execute," midfielder Chris Klein said. "We didn't get the ball in the net, and that's on us. We come out in the second half with the momentum, and we're knocking on the door and knocking on the door, and then we give them an easy chance at the other end and all the sudden we're clawing our way back in and trying to get a tie."
At home, RSL is 0-2-1. At Rice-Eccles Stadium, they have played the better game twice, yet only were able to manage a tie once against New York. On the road, RSL is 0-3. Two times on the road, they have scored the first goal of the game only to lose 2-1.
Saturday's game seemed like the perfect opportunity for RSL to end its atrocious winless streak, dating back to Aug. 12. Columbus had nine players unavailable due to injury, had not practiced on the FieldTurf at Rice-Eccles, and had not acclimated to the higher elevation.
"This is a tough one to swallow," Talley said. "We allow only two shots on goal, and they walk away with a 1-0 win."
At halftime, coach John Ellinger encouraged his team to stay the course. How could he not, considering how well RSL dominated the first 45 minutes.
"You try to stay positive at halftime," Ellinger said. "You ask them to play it better the second half; do what you did in the first half, but put some chances away, get on the end of crosses, sacrifice your body. I don't care how it gets across the line, but get it across the line."
As frustrated as Ellinger is with RSL's lack of results, Columbus coach Sigi Schmid is feeling pleased with the Crew's improvements.
"There are certain games where you just have to roll up your sleeves and sometimes you just have to win ugly," Schmid said. "The sign of a good team, when you start to become a good team, is when you find a way to win games when you aren't playing your best."
Schmid certainly was pleased to see his players dig deep at the end.
"They showed tremendous heart, and they showed tremendous desire with as many people as we were missing and with one man down at the end of the game, and Salt Lake just kept throwing on more forwards," Schmid said. "It just becomes a hit-and-miss game at the end. I am very proud of how they battled."
Peter Richins is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.