During an in-game interview with ESPN, Real Salt Lake manager Freddy Juarez said he had "no words" to describe his feelings about his side allowing a goal just 50 seconds into their 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday morning.
By the postgame press conference, he had found them. And they were focused squarely in the mirror.
"I take full responsibility for that first goal," Juarez said of Johnny Russell's opportunistic strike in both teams' Group D finale. "I didn’t have the guys ready coming out of the locker room and into the beginning of the game. And I think after that we found rhythm of the game."
RSL had already secured a spot in the Knockout Stage prior to the match, although the defeat drops them to third in the four-team group. They could still finish second if the Colorado Rapids defeat Minnesota United FC Wednesday night (10:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN in Canada). Depending on that and other matches, they'll either face Orlando City SC, the San Jose Earthquakes or Columbus Crew SC in the Round of 16.
But Juarez didn't see any signs of complacency from his side, despite conceding the early goal. If anything, playing from behind made their effort more impressive, given the energy it takes to chase a game that kicks off at 9 am local time.
"You go into this with good focus and good chats and good training, and you know, I missed something there and didn’t have my focus on that part," Juarez said. "You have two ways you can handle it. You can break apart or you can continue. And I think we continued. From there we went well."
Later, Juarez added: "I thought they were Bravehearts."