RSL still unable to clear the “last hurdle” in Open Cup defeat

KyleBeckermanRSLsad1-D.C.UnitedUSOpenCup (PabloMaurer_MLSist_DCist)

By TYLER GRAY

SANDY, Utah – It’s like a broken record for Real Salt Lake at this point.

Once again the claret-and-cobalt dropped a result at home with a championship on the line. Once again they fell to their opponent 1-0 with a number of possible equalizers rebounding off the woodwork, and once again RSL had to sit and watch the visiting team celebrate a championship on their home field.

“It’s something that I can’t really put my finger on,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “How we can get so close and have so much momentum through the majority of the season and we get to a game like this and we can’t seem to put things together. We can’t seem to get over that last hurdle.”

RSL has been possibly the most consistent team throughout the past few MLS seasons and yet have no trophies to show for it. Kreis’ side recently set a record for being the first team in MLS history to hit the 50 point mark and qualify for the playoffs five years in a row and yet they have no hardware to show for it.

In 2008, Real Salt Lake watched the New York Red Bulls secure their trip to the MLS Cup in their newly-christened stadium. In 2011, in the CONCACAF Champions League final, RSL had one foot in the FIFA Club World Cup when they left Monterrey with a 2-2 result.  It was not to be as Humberto Suazo scored the lone goal right before halftime in the return leg and Monterrey held on for the title.

The third time was not the charm on Tuesday, and Salt Lake fell again, repeating almost the same script from their previous two losses. This time it was Lewis Neal that would be their undoing. A former RSL trialist who had only played 232 minutes all season for D.C. United. It didn’t matter much to the opportunistic midfielder, who ran onto a loose ball and sent the game-winner into the back of the net in the 45th minute.

“It almost makes it hurt more a little bit I think,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. “I didn’t think we played bad. I didn’t think the energy level wasn’t there. I thought all of those things were there. I think that’s what makes it hurt even more. Because you’re just left searching for answers a little bit. You can’t find the words.”

It was a sobering scene in the locker room after the match. Kreis made it a point to go around to every single player there and give them a firm handshake and a pat on the back.

This is a team that probably deserved better, but RSL cannot dwell on missed opportunities or they’ll lose the few they have left. They have a quick turnaround ahead, hosting FC Dallas in league play on Saturday.

“I think this team’s got a choice right now,” defender Nat Borchers said. “We can let this thing bring us down and affect our future results, or we can put it behind us and move on. That’s the choice we have to make right now.”

With only three games left in the season, RSL will have to shake off the disappointment quickly if they want to have any kind of chance at the Supporters’ Shield and, much more realistically, a favorable seed in the playoffs.

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15 Responses to RSL still unable to clear the “last hurdle” in Open Cup defeat

  1. Kevin_Amold says:

    This loss hurts a lot. I’m still on an ang-over (angry hangover) this morning.

    Is this loss going to stain everyone involved as being “unable to win a big one” since 2009? Is it a reflection on coaching, on the group of players, or a mix of both? Is RSL’s difficulty scoring in autumn becoming a trend? Or is it just as simple as DC snatching a goal and hanging on for dear life against the odds?

    Can someone please talk me off this ledge I’m on?

  2. Mark says:

    So begins the curse of the RioT. Been there for all three of these. This one felt the worst.

    • Vinz Clortho says:

      Same experience for me…

      Playing for trophies at home we’ve got a streak. We’re 0 and 3 RE-AL.
      Cups at the RIOT? It’s a bitter dream. Post clank-ing RSL!

  3. Beto says:

    I love the 1990’s Braves comparison..

  4. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    SLC won an MLS championship…..not in 1999, in 2009.
    They aren’t going to win everything all the time….although they should have last night.

  5. mcm says:

    The better you team does the more it hurts when they don’t do better.

  6. inkedAG says:

    I feel for RSL fans. The team has been consistently good these last few years. I really wish you did it up in this game and won the Championship.

    It’s so insane that a team with a 3-21-6 record is a champion.

    • elgringorico says:

      this is clear evidence that their record was never a super accurate indicator of the quality of the squad. all season they have been decimated by injuries, and finally when they put out the squad Benny wanted to see from the start, they beat one of the best teams, fair and square, and added another trophy. Here’s hoping they can improve even more before the CCL next season.

      • JRP says:

        What is a good indicator then?
        You can say they shouldn’t have won last night. But they did. They were not the better team. But they won. The only thing you have to go on is goals.

      • inkedAG says:

        Ben Olsen juggled a lot of players through. And it’s DC and they’ve been terrible. :)

  7. Patrick says:

    I usually have a lot of respect for RSL…and I’m sure the stretch that I’m thinking of may not be indicative of their usual style, but there was one moment when Nat Borchers who is 6-2, 180lbs and Kyle Beckerman who is 165-170lbs were pushing James Riley who is a pretty skinny dude around, trying to punch the ball out of his hands during a stoppage, probably getting a few good hits on his arms…and not much later Nat Borchers steamrolled some other dude on a header and delivered a real good headbutt. Can’t say I was sorry to see them get taken down after than.

  8. JRP says:

    Is the curse from Beckerman’s hair?
    I think the stench of the cup loses at home is stuck in that rat’s nest. Time to cut it off monk style and rededicate yourself.
    Honestly, Beckerman was barely in the game yesterday.