Photo by ISIPhotos.com
The task was clear for Real Salt Lake. Beat Herediano, either 1-0 or by more than one goal, and they would have their place in the CONCACAF Champions League.
That task seemed well within reach, particularly with Tuesday night’s group stage showdown taking place at Rio Tinto Stadium, but much like they did in the 2010 CONCACAF Champions League Final, Real Salt Lake couldn’t find the goal they needed to capture that special moment of glory.
Herediano played the role of spoiler on Tuesday night, keeping RSL off the scoreboard in a scoreless draw that booked the Costa Rican club’s place in the quarterfinals and eliminated the home team.
“Yeah, we went for it,” said RSL midfielder Will Johnson. “We put in a lot of effort and created some good chances. We couldn’t quite find that final pass. There was a little lack of quality in the final third and it really hurt us tonight.”
RSL went into the match short-handed, with Alvaro Saborio suspended and Jamison Olave injured. Saborio’s absence was felt the most, with RSL controlling possession for stretches, but not turning that possession into truly dangerous chances.
“It’s always a little frustrating when you have so many clear chances and you don’t take them, but I think that our guys put all the right effort into it,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “Herediano made it very, very difficult in the second half; literally, putting 11 players, almost in their penalty box and it will always be tough to score on a team that plays like that.
“I was expecting Herediano to come out and play a little more soccer than they did tonight and not muddle up the game like they did.”
RSL won’t have much to dwell on the loss. They have the MLS playoffs looming, and will face a tough challenge from the Seattle Sounders.
“If we let this get the best of us and feel bad about this game, it’s not going to be good going into the playoffs,” said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “But I doubt we’re going to do that.”