SALT LAKE CITY — The suspension of striker Alvaro Saborio no doubt was a major factor in Real Salt Lake's 2-0 home loss to Columbus last Saturday.
But RSL isn't making excuses, and they are ready to move on to the next match, their first-ever visit to Livestrong Sporting Park to take on Sporting Kansas City tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Having the news of Saborio's absence — due to being disciplined for diving in RSL's previous game against San Jose — delivered just a day before the match seemed to affect the home team.
But, Saborio on the field or not, the quick nature in which they fell behind was devastating. Columbus scored two goals in the first 10 minutes, a hole that midfielder Will Johnson said was hard to climb out of.
"A performance like that can happen once, but it can't happen again," Johnson said. "If we would have been able to get one back, it would have been easier to get back into the game."
Faced with the 2-0 deficit, Johnson said there was some uncharacteristic backbiting.
"We got frustrated with each other and that showed," he said. "But when you're facing adversity, you want everyone staying together."
With the loss, RSL now sits at fifth place in the Western Conference with a 9-4-6 mark and 33 points. Head coach Jason Kreis emphasizes that the team has put the game behind them..
"I don't feel too overly glum about it," he said. "I'm over it, we're moving past it and I'm really looking forward to the response we get."
Sporting Kansas City poses a challenge, riding a franchise-record 13-game unbeaten streak. In addition, they haven't lost at home (3-0-4) at their brand new stadium.
"There's definitely a buzz going into new stadiums, mostly because it's always good to see a new facility in the MLS," said Johnson, who played in the stadium in the Gold Cup. "It's not an easy place to play, but we need a response after that loss."
Kansas City's latest surge has put their record at 6-6-9, good for fifth in the Eastern Conference with 27 points, and Johnson knows they will be looking for more success.
"They are a team that's desperate for points, especially after a rough (1-6-1) start," he said. Kansas City opened the season with 10 straight road matches while their new stadium was still being completed.
Kreis said his team better be ready for a potentially rough match.
"(Kansas City) is a very, very physical team," he said. "They are strong players that fight for every ball."
With the temperature in Kansas City peaking at almost 110 degrees on Tuesday, the heat may play a factor, but Kreis stresses that he doesn't want it to be an excuse. He said it's important for the players to properly prepare for the heat, and then simply perform on the pitch.
"If we talk too much bout the heat, it kind of becomes a mental crutch for the players, and then that's all they want to talk about," Kreis said.
The game at Kansas City is the beginning of a stretch in which four of RSL's five August matches are away from Rio Tinto Stadium. The only home match comes on Saturday at 7 p.m. against New York.