SANDY — The mood in the Real Salt Lake locker room and L.A. Galaxy locker room were obviously different Wednesday following L.A.'s stunning come-from-behind win, but the disparity wasn't as exaggerated as you'd expect.
Real Salt Lake's players realized the mistakes that led to L.A.'s first two goals were an anomaly, and unlikely to happen again.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, recognized that the victory was a positive step forward, but the reality of the situation is it still trails West-leading RSL by 15 points in the standings.
"We've had a really poor start to the season, so we've got a lot of ground to make up," said Landon Donovan. "We're real envious of the position Salt Lake is in and that's where we feel we should be. We need to do our part to keep winning games and worry about everything else later, but we've got to keep winning games and keep the momentum going."
As the Galaxy players gleefully walked off the field and returned to the locker room following the match, Mike Magee said they got a real wake-up call when someone showed them the updated MLS standings and they were still in seventh place despite the win.
"We got brought back down to earth real quick," said Magee, who had a goal and assist.
For Real Salt Lake, as disappointing as blowing a two-goal lead at home is, the players are trying to keep a level head. They still sit atop the Western Conference standings with 32 points, two ahead of second-place San Jose, a team that ironically visits Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday.
"Not everyone's perfect. Not every team is perfect. You go out with the mindset of playing the perfect game, but it's never going to happen," said Rimando. "Today those mistakes all came in this game and hopefully there aren't going to be too many more going forward."
It's hard to imagine Tony Beltran ever giving a ball away so easily again, whether it's this year or in his career. And as for Jamison Olave's giveaway that L.A. turned into the equalizing goal, it's hard to imagine a healthy Olave being so careless.
Olave is hobbling around with a calf injury, and realistically would not have started on Wednesday or last Saturday had Chris Schuler been available. Schuler, however, is dealing with his own injury concerns and hasn't been cleared to play yet.
"He's carrying an injury and I think everybody can see it's affecting him," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.3 comments on this story
For L.A., the victory avenged a 3-1 season-opening loss at home to Real Salt Lake, which benefited greatly from an L.A. defensive mistake in the form of an own goal.
The teams meet again in Los Angeles on Oct. 6, but it wouldn't surprise Donovan if there's another playoff meeting down the road.
"They are a great team. For probably the last four or five years the road to the championship goes through them and vice versa for us. It's chippy but there is a lot of respect both ways. We play hard and after the game we shake hands," he said.