SANDY, Utah — The feelings around Real Salt Lake following their 2-1 loss to San Jose on Saturday night were to be expected: frustration, disappointment, disheartening, anger.
"I don't know if there has ever been a time when I felt as mad as I do right now, to be honest with you," RSL coach Jason Kreis said after the match. "Soccer can be a very cruel game, and tonight was every indication of that."
Real controlled much, if not most, of the run of play. Outside of the first 15 minutes, RSL were clearly the team deserving of all three points. They had more possession (60.1% to 39.9%), better scoring chances (19 to 12 in shots) and all the momentum going their way.
But, as Kreis said, the game can be brutal. It doesn’t care about stats or even momentum.
Rather than putting one of their many chances into the back of the net, the Claret and Cobalt instead handed San Jose the game, conceding two goals on set pieces that should’ve been dealt with by a veteran RSL defense.
"Honest to God, we didn't lose the game, we gave the game away," Kreis said. "If somebody comes in here and beats us, endline to endline for 90 minutes, then I'll have a different answer for you, but right now, we're beating ourselves."
The loss, coming on the heels of Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to the LA Galaxy, marks the first time RSL have dropped two consecutive MLS home games since moving into Rio Tinto Stadium in 2009. It also allowed San Jose to leapfrog them into first place in the Western Conference.
Defender Nat Borchers was involved in both San Jose goals. The first, a free kick at the 75th minute, led to an easy Alan Gordon header for a goal after Borchers and goalkeeper Nick Rimando miscommunicated and were tentative in attacking the loose ball. They both seemed to stop playing for second, though Borchers refused to point the finger at Rimando.
"One hundred percent my fault," Borchers said. "I should have continued to play. There was no reason for me to stop, so I held my hand up on that one, no question about that."
Real equalized on a Javier Morales free kick in the 79th minute, but then once again the team fell asleep. In the 84th minute a long throw-in was flicked on by Gordon — who was being marked loosely by Borchers — and Chris Wondolowski redirected the ball in for his 13th goal on the season.
After several glaring defensive lapses against LA that led to RSL’s losing a two-goal lead, this was yet another error that gave a game away.
"I wouldn't disagree with that at all," Borchers said. "We controlled the game, for sure. Both games (LA on Wednesday and San Jose) we had full control and weren't even able to even get a point out of it, so it's tough."
RSL will now have a full week to regroup, and then they go on the road to face a tricky side in the Columbus Crew next Saturday. Despite the disappointment at giving away two games, there doesn’t seem to be any panic in RSL.
"I'm discouraged and mad at the world, right now like I've never been before that I can remember,” Kreis said. “But I'm not ready to throw in the towel.”