SANDY, Utah — It’s rare that you can say Real Salt Lake were never really in a match played at home, but that’s exactly what happened in a 2-0 loss against the Columbus Crew at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night. After a fifth-minute goal by the visitors, RSL never really recovered.
“To me, it just came down to mental lapses,” head coach Jason Kreis said after the game. “Just a mental lapse again and you are down two goals to a team that’s very good defensively and works hard together.”
He agreed that he didn’t see the usual response from his squad when they find themselves facing adversity.
“I think that they got a bit frantic, and certainly a bit frustrated,” Kreis said. “I’m pleased with the effort. I’m pleased with the fight. I don’t think our guys — I don’t think any of them out there quit. I think they tried to put everything out there that they could in that game to get back into it, but we just came up a bit short tonight in the quality department.”
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Defender Chris Wingert called this match, “probably our worst start.” He felt that they got themselves into a position early on that just proved to be insurmountable.
“We just weren’t switching on and off,” he said, “and a couple of lapses in the back and we screwed ourselves. Next thing you know we’re 2-0 down, and behind the eight ball in the first 10 minutes.”
Two of last week’s starting back four didn’t play in Saturday’s tussle. Jámison Olave suffered an injury in the All-Star game, while Tony Beltran picked up a slight injury in practice. However, even though the miscues came along the back line, Kreis felt the blame could be shared all across his club Saturday.
“I would love to have played with the same back four as we did last week, but with Olave’s injury and Tony Beltran’s slight injury, we just couldn’t do that,” the RSL coach lamented. “But for me, it wasn’t the back four, it was the entire defensive effort, and the entire focus and mentality in the first part of the game.”
Also missing was striker Álvaro Saborío, suspended for a dive last week against San Jose. Kreis expressed frustration about the timing of the decision to suspend the Costa Rican star. The call came just before 1 pm MT on Friday — one day before this match.
“To find out Friday at the end of the meeting, after I’ve already laid out the lineup, and Sabo’s name is on it and we talk about where we want him running, and positioning, and everything else,” Kreis said. “To have our GM come in at the last minute and tell us, ‘Oh, by the way, Sabo’s not going to play’ — that’s not good enough, in my opinion. It’s not good enough from the league, and it’s disrespectful to coaches.”
However, Wingert didn’t feel like it had much of an impact on this result.
“It’s certainly not ideal, but that’s no excuse for the way we played,” the defender said. “We were just poor — that’s not because they suspended Sabo. Obviously he’s one of our best players and we want him on the field helping scoring goals, and when we’re playing our best soccer he’s usually out there. But that’s definitely not an excuse for how bad we played.”