It's looking a lot like Real Salt Lake have lost their mojo. The team entered this week on a high, with a chance to win the CONCACAF Champions League trophy at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday and then tie the league unbeaten streak at 19 games in Portland on Saturday.
As it would turn out, neither occurred.
“It’s disappointing,” defender Chris Wingert told MLSsoccer.com following Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Timbers. “A pretty emotional week and a tough one at that. ... There’s not too much to say. Just a tough week for us, and I’m looking for some better times ahead, hopefully.”
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Whether it was physical fatigue or an emotional funk, the normally smooth and sharp Claret-and-Cobalt seemed to lack their normal sizzle in the first half at JELD-WEN Field. The game had an eerie similarity to Wednesday’s loss to Monterrey, with the opponent scoring a first-half goal, and then RSL unsuccessfully chasing the equalizer the entire second half.
“That’s going to be the case in some of our games this year,” said Wingert of how the match unfolded, with their opponents absorbing the RSL pressure for much of the second half. “Credit to the two teams this week, they were able to do that.”
RSL started with a lineup featuring about an equal mix of veteran players, and some of the same reserve squad that did so well in a 2-0 victory over New England. However, they didn’t seem to create much going forward in the initial stanza, and gave up the critical goal on the defensive end midway through the half.
In the second half, Real Salt Lake injected a couple of more first-choice players and they dominated with possession, but seemed to lack their normal decisiveness around the area.
“I think the guys are still just a bit hesitant in those areas,” coach Jason Kreis admitted to Salt Lake City's ESPN700 Sports Radio after the match.
This is the first time more than a year that RSL have experienced back-to-back losses. But the squad insists it's far from panic mode after what has turned out to be bitter week.
“We’re confident,” insisted Wingert. “We believe in ourselves, and we know we’re a good team.”
Kreis is simply looking to get back to a "normal" week. RSL went two-and-a-half weeks between league games as they chased CONCACAF glory and have only had seven days between games once this season. They'll get their second entire week of prep work this week ahead of a May 7 visit from Chivas USA.
“It will be good for us to have a whole week in training,” said Kreis. “There is a lot to look forward to.”