FRISCO, Texas — Just three days after beating FC Dallas at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake looked like a completely different club in a 2-0 loss to FCD in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match at Pizza Hut Park.
Dallas got goals from Jair Benitez in the 18th minute and another from Jackson Goncalves in the 54th to advance.
That first goal definitely set an ominous tone for RSL.
"Giving up the first goal against a good team like Dallas is always tough," Salt Lake defender Nate Borchers said. "After that, we were just under it and I don't think we responded as well as we wanted to."
Salt Lake finished with just six total shots, but none of those were on goal.
Tonight's performance clearly didn't sit well with RSL head coach Jason Kreis, who saw a marked difference in how his side performed tonight compared to how they fared on Saturday night in Sandy.
"I think just the energy level [was the biggest difference]," Kreis said. "We've seen it lots and lots of times here in Dallas where we can't just seem to get the energy level right."
That energy he speaks of was only present to start the second half, when Salt Lake was able to muster several quality chances. One of those opportunities came in the 47th minute when Tony Beltran found some room inside the Dallas area but saw his shot deflected by George John.
And once Dallas added a second goal nine minutes into the final frame, any momentum they had evaporated.
"If we don't have the right energy and the right mentality for games, we oftentimes don't get results," Kreis said. "When we do have the right mentality and energy level for games, we oftentimes do get results."
Despite finishing the first half with only one shot, RSL trailed by only a goal at the break. One reason the game was only 1-0 was because midfielder Ned Grabavoy denied a header by John at the right post one minute before halftime.
But the nail in the coffin for Salt Lake in tonight's defeat was a lack of possession. Other than the early stages of the second half, they didn't control the flow of the game at all.
"I think a big factor for us tonight was our possession game," Borchers said. "I don't think we were as good as we normally are with our possession."
At opening kick, the thermometer read 97 degrees, nine degrees hotter than it was in Saturday's contest at Rio Tinto, and the hotter weather was definitely a factor.
"It was a tough game. It was hot," Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "They played great and scored two great goals."
RSL had one final chance in the 74th minute when Collen Warner took a shot from 20 yards but his attempt instead struck the crossbar and it remained a two-goal affair.
However, they will have to put this result behind them quickly and refocus their efforts toward league play, which resumes in four days.
"Open Cup's done now and we have to wash our hands and get over that," Borchers said.4 comments on this story
And even though Salt Lake is now eliminated from the Open Cup, Beckerman couldn't resist taking a shot at the Dallas crowd, something that goes back to his days in Colorado.
"It's a shame. It seemed like a high school match tonight, with how many in the crowd? 3000? Ha, good one," he said. "It wasn't the greatest atmosphere, which is a shame."
Kreis' team returns to MLS action on Saturday night in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.
"We have a big test in front of us with Vancouver," Borchers said. "It's a tough place to play. We have to make sure we bring our 'A game' on Saturday."