HERRIMAN — In the seconds after conceding a 93rd-minute winner to San Jose last weekend, the immediate reactions from Real Salt Lake’s players told the whole story.
Kyle Beckerman hunched over and grabbed his knees. Nick Rimando stared off into the distance with hands on hips. Corey Baird grabbed his head with both hands in disbelief, while Aaron Herrera threw his hand forward in disgust.
With a chance to extend the team's three-game unbeaten streak and grab points in consecutive road games for the first time since last August, a brief lapse on a San Jose short corner proved very costly in stoppage time.
“We’ve put it behind us, but guys are still a bit upset about that last-second winner, but we have no one to blame but ourselves for falling asleep for a split second,” said RSL coach Mike Petke.
Despite the loss, RSL is only looking forward with confidence after picking up six points during last week’s busy stretch of three games in eight days — both wins coming at home.
“It’s obviously tough right when it happens, but after you get a chance to take a breath and really think about it, it was a good week. There were times when we could’ve got scored on in the games that we won, it just so happen that it happened at the end of the game,” said Beckerman.
RSL’s captain said it’s important to feel the sting of those last-second daggers, but to then move on quickly.
It’s been Beckerman’s motto his 13 years with RSL, and he certainly isn’t changing despite the San Jose loss.
“When we win we can’t get too high and when we lose we can’t get too low, we have to stay steady and try to improve every day,” he said.
RSL’s players and coaches said they were pleased for the most part with the performance in San Jose and believed they deserved a point.
A tie would’ve kept RSL above the playoff line in the seventh seed, but instead it dropped behind San Jose into the eighth seed in the log-jammed Western Conference. It’s the same position RSL was in before its back-to-back wins at home last week.
With consecutive home games the next two weekends against Philadelphia and Minnesota, RSL must continue to maximize points at home to stay near the playoff line.
Brooks Lennon doesn’t think that will be a problem with RSL returning home from San Jose confident in its performance.
“Feels to get back out here after a couple days off and a tough defeat on the weekend, but we have to keep our heads high because I thought we put in a good performance and just unlucky to concede so late,” said Lennon. “We have high energy and high expectations for this weekend.”