Real Salt Lake suffered their fifth — and, arguably, the most disappointing — loss of the season against FC Dallas on Friday night, falling 2-1 at Toyota Stadium.
No, the final score doesn't look as bad as the 4-0 thumping absorbed in Seattle back on May 31, but the circumstances against the Sounders on that day were nothing like those on Friday. In Dallas, RSL played the entire second half up a man FCD's Blas Perez was shown a second yellow card by referee Ismail Elfath "for unsporting behavior by embellishing contact" after an altercation with RSL defender Chris Schuler -- and yet they still lost.
The result did not leave head coach Jeff Cassar with much lattitude in his postgame reaction.
“I just don't think we were exceptional in anything tonight,” Cassar told reporters. “We just weren't good enough.”
Despite the man advantage, things unraveled for RSL soon after the halftime break. In the 50th minute, FCD's Je-Vaughn Watson chested home a corner kick in the 50th minute to give the home side the lead. Then, a lightning-fast counterattack led to Fabian Castillo's goal in the 74th minute. Yes, Salt Lake pulled a goal back when Olmes Garcia scored on a deflected 91st-minute bicycle kick, but it was too little, too late.
“There's two ways FC Dallas scores on you — set plays and counter attacks,” Cassar said, his voice betraying his exasperation. “We went over it and over it [in training]. And we couldn't deal with a corner kick, and they got us on a counterattack. It was a little bit naïve of us, and hopefully we'll learn from it and move on.”
“It was almost like we panicked when they scored the first goal and were trying to push really hard to get the goal,” RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando told the media. “It just wasn't a mature effort in the second half.”
Rimando called it a “weird game,” and even RSL captain Kyle Beckerman wondering -- counterintuitively -- if Perez's red card worked to Dallas's advantage, emphasizing FCD's preferred counterattacking style.
“I think maybe going down a man might have helped them,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman told the media. “They just have so much speed up top and they really play the counter.”
“Sometimes it's even harder to break down a team when they go down a man because they're all behind the ball instead of two forwards hanging high and trying to play when they win the ball,” Rimando said. “But we weren't sharp enough. We weren't patient enough.”
RSL play at San Jose next week, then get another shot at Dallas — this time at home — the week after that.
“Nobody's panicking in here at all,” Rimando said.