The 1-0 loss was disappointing but the performance was hugely encouraging after the thrashing from FC Dallas last Friday.
Watch: Full match highlights
The Colorado Rapids needed to get back on track quickly after the 3-0 loss last week in Texas. A trip to the fortress that is Rio Tinto stadium may not have been the ideal situation to do so, but the team had far more possession, played with greater energy and, but for another stoppage time goal from Real Salt Lake, could have come away from the home of their Rocky Mountain rivals with a much deserved draw.
Fabian Espindola’s disputed 93rd minute goal was, in the end, enough to separate the two teams. Disputed because replays showed the striker was clearly in an offside position when he bundled the ball in from close range and because the call that led to Javier Morales’ free-kick, which created the goal scoring opportunity, was a matter of contention on the Rapids bench.
Gary Smith, Rapids’ head coach, said after the game that it was disappointing for such a tight match to end in such a controversial way.
“These were two very competitive teams and it’s just a real shame that things were decided on a bad call,” he told MLSsoccer.com.
Chances were few and far between for both sides. Smith felt the last pass on the few opportunities that did come Colorado’s way was lacking.
“Especially in that first half when, on one or two occasions, the final ball wasn’t maybe as clinical as it could have been,” he said.
Sanna Nyassi also had a good chance late in the second half to find a better ball across the penalty area when he got in behind the Salt Lake defense, Smith said. Unfortunately, the Rapids were not able to make the best of the limited opportunities that they did create.
Watch: Rimando snags Nyassi cross
But the energy and competence of Wednesday’s performance will have done much to encourage the players and coaching staff.
“The energy and the focus on the job in hand were so much more elevated,” he said. “Everyone’s attitude was so much better and that makes it all the more galling it was decided that way.”
The Rapids drop to 3-2-0 for the season after these two straight road defeats. They now have two games at home to look forward to with Seattle (April 22) and Chicago (April 30) the next visitors to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.