During his time as a player and a coach for Real Salt Lake, Jason Kreis experienced a lot of losing. He's as sick of it as everybody else, but Monday's 1-0 loss to Houston in the 2007 home finale stings perhaps more than any other loss.
"I wish we could've done better for him. I really emotionally put a lot into that game," said Kreis. "I hope, I think the players did as well, so we are all disappointed not to have gotten him a win to go out with at home."
With one game remaining, a big one too with the Rocky Mountain Cup up for grabs this Saturday in Colorado, Kreis said, "we will try desperately ... to win for Eddie in his last MLS game."
The way RSL lost Monday was equally as frustrating.
The game's only goal, a 66th-minute sublime shot from Stuart Holden, was in fact supposed to be a cross. The rising MLS star admitted he was trying to drive the ball into the box hoping for something good to happen. It caught everyone by surprise, particularly Real keeper Nick Rimando, when the shot near the sideline sailed into the back of the net despite Rimando getting a slight touch on the ball.
Holden couldn't help but laugh after the goal, but considering that Rimando denied him just a minute earlier on a spectacular save, he felt the game-winner was sweet redemption.
"Obviously very disappointing. Another game we're at home and feel like we're doing some good things, some not good things, but in the end feel like we deserve a result." said Kreis.
With one game remaining, RSL is still tied with Toronto with 24 points at the bottom of the MLS standings.
As for Houston, the win moves the Dynamo to within one point of Western Conference-leading Chivas, coincidentally enough the team Houston plays this Saturday.
Up until Holden's game-winner, Monday's match was pretty run of the mill. There were a few cards, a few scoring chances, but nothing overly exciting for the 14,587 Rice-Eccles Stadium patrons. After the goal, however, things got very, very interesting.
Seven minutes after taking the lead, Houston was relegated to 10 men when defender Eddie Robinson was red-carded for tripping up Kyle Beckerman just outside the penalty area. RSL nearly scored on the resulting free kick, but Houston midfielder Richard Mulrooney cleared Beckerman's shot off the line while standing at the post.
Two minutes later RSL was reduced to 10 men as well when Yura Movsisyan was sent off for apparently trying to take a swing at Houston keeper Pat Onstad.
"I do feel the game wasn't mismanaged there by the man in the middle," said Kreis. "I think he missed a lot of what was going on on both sides."
RSL had a few decent chances in the final 15 minutes to equalize but Onstad came up big each time to preserve his 10th shutout of the season.
Movsisyan actually had Real's best scoring chance of the match in the 52nd minute when he banged a shot off the right post.
"We've got to get past this losing, just get on a different mindset, different everything," said Beckerman. "If we finish our chances we're going to be one hell of a team."
RSL outshot Houston 14-9, but only four of those shots were on target.
Beckerman was just as disappointed not to win for Pope, but after the match he joked with reporters that he's the only one who thinks Pope will be back in 2008 even though the veteran defender has already announced his intention of retiring.