After another frustrating loss on Sunday night eliminated Real Salt Lake from contention for a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Damir Kreilach had a message for a fanbase that has endured frustation on and off the field in 2020: We're sorry.
"It’s hard to find the words," Kreilach said following the 2-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park that officially ended the Claret-and-Cobalt's chances and kept the Galaxy alive. "I’m disappointed this year, and frustrating as well. I mean we play solid game. But I mean first of all, I want to apologize to the fans in the name of the team, just because we didn’t reach what we wanted this year."
That RSL are out of the postseason for the first time in three years is only part of the pain. Another is that so many defeats were like Sunday's, in which the visitors hoarded nearly two-thirds of the possession and completed nearly 600 passes, yet conceded once on a set piece and once in transition.
"Right now we are in a situation where everything was, when they’re open and shoot on the goal, it is a goal," lamented Kreilach, which was only a slight exaggeration.
Shots overall were about even Sunday, and LA had four on target to RSL's one. It's easy to see the worst, though, after this kind of year.
On the field, RSL has lost seven of its last 11 to crash out of the playoff places despite an expanded field, with four of those losses coming by a single goal.
"I think we had plenty of opportunities this year to get results, and pick up points, and we failed to do so," said defender Justen Glad. "And I speak for the whole team when I say we’re upset. ... It’s very disappointing."
Off the pitch, the aftermath of a player boycott in solidarity with Black Lives Matter resulted in owner Dell Loy Hansen announcing the club was seeking a buyer, and the return of John Kimball as interim president of Utah Soccer.
Now all that remains of 2020 is one last home game next Sunday against Sporting Kansas City, a club that has been as fierce a rival as any for RSL in recent history. It's one more chance to give a better account of themselves. Not that the resolve has been poor. Just the end product.
"I know as far as the result, the fans aren’t proud of it, but I think they should be proud of the effort the guys put in today," coach Freddy Juarez said. "We kept fighting until the end, and it’s going to be the same thing, and I hope it’s the same against KC. It is for myself and I expect for my players.
"What’s the motivation? Well first and foremost, we owe it to the club. They hired us. Second, the fans. The fans live for this every day, and they support us through thick and thin, and we owe it to them."