All Real Salt Lake needed on Saturday was a result in Vancouver to clinch their seventh-straight playoff berth, but a 2-1 loss to the Whitecaps delayed that by at least a week.
And RSL Coach Jeff Cassar was not happy with what happened at BC Place.
“The quality … just wasn't there,” he told reporters. “We just didn't play good enough soccer tonight.”
“I can't think of anybody who had a poor game. It just was — OK. Everyone just was kind of OK. And that's not good enough.”
Cassar clearly wasn't happy that, after RSL took a 1-0 lead on a goal by defender Nat Borchers in the 57th minute, his team allowed Vancouver two goals and the win. He was even less happy that referee Allen Chapman pointed to the spot not once but twice.
“I'm not pleased about it. I'm just not pleased about it,” Cassar said. “It's tough enough to go on the road and try to get a result, but it's even tougher when you've got two PK calls against you.”
The first penalty was called in first-half stoppage time — a rather soft call against RSL forward Alvaro Saborio, who had minimal contact with Vancouver defender Kendall Waston. But it did the visitors no damage when goalkeeper Jeff Attinella - starting for the resting Nick Rimando - made the save on Whitecaps' midfielder Pedro Morales' weak attempt on the final play of the half.
“Good scouting report. I went the right way,” Attinella said. “He didn't hit it as well as he hit the second one, that's for sure.”
The second one came after a penalty decision that was much more clear-cut. In the 60th minute, RSL defender Carlos Salcedo jumped into Vancouver's Erik Hurtado, drawing both a yellow card and another PK.
Given a second chance, Morales buried it. And in the 78th minute, Morales was the beneficiary as the ball pin-balled toward RSL goal, falling in front of him just in time for him to put the Whitecaps ahead.
“Two PKs against is pretty tough,” Attinella said. “And then a shot that's going wide that happens to land right at somebody's foot. The ball didn't bounce our way.”
“It was good to get the save [on the first PK], but in the end it didn't matter too much.”
RSL was effectively playing a man down when the winning goal was scored. Defender Chris Wingert was down at the opposite end of the field after an injury.
“I really feel pretty hard done by the two penalty calls, to be honest,” Borchers said in a television interview. “On the second goal, Wingert got hurt. We obviously were a little bit out of shape there.”
“But we had our chances.”
RSL will have a second chance to clinch that playoff berth on Sunday, Oct. 5, when they travel to Chivas USA — the team at the bottom of the MLS standings. Provided they can shake off the disappointing loss to Vancouver.
“It is what it is,” Attinella said. “We battled hard, and we'll clinch it next game for sure.”