Real Salt Lake know they put themselves in a tough spot with their 1-0 loss to Costa Rican champions Herediano in their opening game of the CONCACAF Champions League down in Central America on Tuesday night.
But rather than dwell on the difficulty of the hole they're in, and a game in which they played more than a half-hour down a man, the team is remaining positive it can still advance after the narrow loss.
"Actually, I'm OK with this," Real head coach Jason Kreis said. "To suffer a really harsh decision with the red card in the 56th or 57th minute, whatever it was, and have to play a man down for the remaining 30-plus minutes, you have to feel OK walking out of here down a goal, basically, in what's going to turn into a home-and-away series.”
Center back Nat Borchers was handed a straight red near the hour mark for a harsh challenge on Herediano midfielder José Sánchez, setting the visitors further back after surrendering the lead just 14 minutes in.
"I took a bad touch, and went in hard on the tackle, and you know, I think maybe at another place, another time, that's a yellow card, if anything," said Borchers. "I think that is really, really harsh to get sent off for that."
To compound RSL's problems with their most vocal leader in the back already on the sidelines, All-Star Jámison Olave went down with some sort of left leg injury not even five minutes later.
"We’re not quite sure yet," said Kreis of what forced Olave off the pitch. "It is way too early to tell. He was icing the back of his knee, so I don't know if that is where his hamstring is connecting back there or if it's an actual knee problem. We will certainly be very mindful of that over the next 24 hours."
Even down a man and with both Borchers and Olave absent, RSL were able to keep the bleeding to a minimum. Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally entered to shore up the defense and keep the deficit at one.
"Kwame and Kenny both had solid performances for us again, and that's not an easy thing to do to come off the bench in a defensive position, especially at the center backs. Another quality contribution from those guys," said Kreis.
The Claret-and-Cobalt didn't create too many clear-cut scoring chances the last half hour, but it could have been worse. Much worse.
"We are still very upbeat in the locker room," said Borchers. "After the game we talked about it and you know, really it is a home-and-away series, and we just have to take care of business at home. If we win 2-0 at home, we are going to take these guys down.
“Really it is just going to have to come down to us taking care of business these next three games."
RSL continue their CONCACAF campaign when they host the Panamanian club Tauro at Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 21.