Throughout last Saturday's postgame interviews, and even in comments made to the media following Monday's training session, Real Salt Lake's players and coaches expressed their utter disagreement with the penalty kick that was awarded to Columbus in the 2-0 loss over the weekend.
The RSL contingency also acknowledged, that's not why they lost.
A very disjointed attack and long stretches of virtually no possession were the primary culprits to yet another loss for the MLS cellar dwellers.
So what can be done to prevent a similar outing? A lot of things, but midfielder Carey Talley, who was particularly disappointing at Columbus, believes it starts with desire.
"I just think that comes in belief, and believing in each other," said Talley. "Heck, we get five opportunities a game, and it's sometimes one guy going at it himself. If we only get five opportunities you'd think everybody would say, 'Oh my gosh, this is one of the five,' and three or five guys might want to get involved in that."
The support just wasn't there against Columbus, and a lot of times RSL forwards Alecko Eskandarian and Robbie Findley were left to go it alone. As a result, on several occasions an ambitious Eskandarian tried overcompensating by trying to dribble through five defenders or shoot from 30 yards out. Not surprisingly, nothing came of those hopeless ideas as RSL simply surrendered possession back to the Crew.
Real Salt Lake finished with five shots, only one of which was on frame, but RSL coach Jason Kreis doesn't believe it should be that hard if the assorted midfielders are doing their job.
At left midfield you've got Mehdi Ballouchy, a player Kreis believes has been typecast as strictly an offensive-minded player, and therefore might be viewed as a disappointment. In reality, Kreis is starting to view him as a two-way player.
"For me, Mehdi has been a player that everyone's looked to as an offensive-minded player from the beginning, because he has such technical ability on the ball and does some really special things in that way," said Kreis. "I'm not looking for him to provide the brunt of the attack for our team ... I think Mehdi's more comfortable when he can go in deeper positions and he can get the ball, turn and make plays happen from there."
On the other side of the midfield you've got Talley, a defensive player by nature who no one expects to thrive out wide. Nonetheless, with a shortage of players right now that's where he's being asked to play.
"I'm mainly in there in that spot to help defend into the center of the field," said Talley. "They know I'm not going to get in behind people at that position, that's not what they're asking of me."
So if neither the left midfielder nor right midfielder are the type of player that pushes high up into the attack, where are the forwards supposed to get their support? It clearly needs to come from attacking midfielder Andy Williams, but he simply wasn't getting the job done against Columbus.
"In the first half I was shouting out that I wanted him to find the ball more, and that ended up that he went deeper to find it," said a frustrated Kreis. "As we go forward, I don't want him in those deep spots, we've got three capable players in there ... to do that job. His job's going to need to be more just the attack."
If Williams had done that more consistently against the Crew, maybe Real Salt Lake would've been slightly more dangerous.
But that only addresses a portion of the problem. Mentally, it's obvious the team just isn't confident, and that appears to be holding RSL back as much as anything.
"The only thing we can do as players is stay positive and actually believe in the system we're asked to play in, because if you go in thinking this isn't going to work, it's not," said Talley.