SANDY, Utah – When Real Salt Lake were stunningly undone in the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in May of last year, they went into an extended funk. Tuesday's CCL elimination at the hands of Herediano may not sting quite that badly, but the Claret-and-Cobalt refuse to fall into the same trap this time around.
“We need to move forward and forget this quickly because we have a little tournament of our own coming up,” head coach Jason Kreis said following the 0-0 draw with the Costa Rican side. “I think in some ways, it’s a good thing that we have a game on Saturday. Another match for us to get turned around and then playoffs start very quickly after that. We’ve got to feel sorry for ourselves a little bit tonight and then move forward.”
Most of the goals the team set before the season have already been missed – RSL players and coaches said they wanted to win the Supporters' Shield and advance in CONCACAF – but one of the biggest, a second MLS Cup for the franchise, is still a reality.
“We’ll just try and pick ourselves up and turn it around,” said captain Kyle Beckerman. “We’ve got some really important games coming up so we can still have a really good season if we get our stuff together.”
A key word for the team lies in Beckerman’s observation: together. Ever since Kreis took control as coach in 2007, he has preached the philosophy: “the team is the star.” So don’t expect anything different from the club.
"Nobody was frustrated at each other, just frustrated at the situation,” said midfielder Will Johnson. “You know, that’s CONCACAF. That’s the ugly side of CONCACAF. It always has been and as long as it continues like this, it always will be. So I think the guys are together and looking forward to getting back to MLS play and some real football.”
So for RSL, the question becomes: Will the elimination deflate the team or serve as a rallying cry? With a group of veterans, they all are at least saying the right things.
“I think we have no choice, really,” defender Nat Borchers said about moving on and preparing for the MLS Cup playoffs. “... I think it’s something that we can move forward with and be very positive about.”