Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis didn't expect it to be easy in Dallas. However, he unlikely expected it to be that much tougher in the series' return leg at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL's prized playmaker Javier Morales’ second yellow card against Dallas — and subsequent ejection — has put RSL in an unenviable position as they enter the second leg of the semifinal a goal down.
Morales will now serve a suspension and miss RSL's home match against Dallas on Nov. 6 (10 p.m. ET, FSC). Dallas lead the Western Conference Semifinal series, 2-1.
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“We knew it was going to be difficult coming in,” RSL coach Jason Kreis told Fox Soccer Channel. “We got exactly what we expected.”
Morales first yellow had come in a needless manner, which made the ejection very hard to swallow for RSL.
In the 49th minute, Morales had stopped the ball inside the center circle following an injury to teammate Andy Williams. He then took exception to what he thought was an aggressive reaction by Dallas' Daniel Hernandez, which resulted in both players giving each other a "friendly" slap to the cheek. They both received a caution.
The seemingly innocuous occurrence would be fateful for RSL. Morales picked up a second yellow for a dangerous play on FCD midfielder Dax McCarty in the 69th minute.
However, before they were made to pay for the costly ejection, Dallas’ Atiba Harris evened things up personnel-wise when he drew a straight red card for a reckless foul against Will Johnson a few minutes later.
This seemed to give the visiting RSL a breath of life as they needed to kill a mere 15-minutes before coming back home with a prized 1-1 draw in the series.
Unfortunately that draw would not come as Eric Avila made RSL pay with a wonderful goal in transition just before the two sides entered stoppage time.
Though Kreis may have expected a tough game, it’s unlikely he expected a loss. After all, RSL had come into this match unbeaten in their last 14 matches and perhaps entered this match confident despite their record of eight losses in eight total appearances in Dallas.
“The flipside of it is, and the truth and the facts are, that we’re down 2-1 at halftime, and the second half is at our place — and the second half is 90-minutes long,” Kreis said.
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