SANDY — Just when it looked like Real Salt Lake was about to escape with one point and a draw on Saturday night against FC Dallas, disaster struck in the 94th minute — a minute before the final whistle.
The RSL defense left David Ferreira wide open on the right side and the former league MVP fired the winning shot past Nick Rimando to leave RSL with a disappointing 2-1 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Earlier in the evening, MLS Western Conference leader San Jose was upset by Montreal 3-1, opening the way for RSL to climb within two points of the Earthquakes in the Western Conference standings with a win. And that's what Real was not only shooting for, but expecting all along.
In fact, afterwards, RSL coach Jason Kreis was surprisingly calm about the loss, perhaps because he thought a draw wouldn't have been much better.
"All in all, in the grand scheme of things, we lost a whopping one point tonight," he said.
However, Kreis was clearly disappointed that his team didn't come away with a victory and three points because it did all that it could to get RSL's first victory since July 27.
"We did so many things well," Kreis said. "We got everything but the result tonight."
He called it "an unfortunate situation" that one team — his — wanted to "play the game," while the other — Dallas — was content to sit back and counterattack, yet still came up with the victory.
RSL hadn't won in three weeks, since a 2-1 home win over Vancouver on July 27, and felt Saturday was a great chance to pick up three points in the standings.
Dallas was coming off two straight victories, including a 2-0 win in Vancouver on Wednesday night and had gone 4-2-1 in its last seven matches after enduring a 13-game winless streak.
After surviving a couple of early Dallas shots, RSL settled down and started dominating the action. It had two great goal chances in the first half, only to see goalkeeper Kevin Hartman make outstanding stops, first on a strike by Fabian Espindola from out front and a then on a rocket by Tony Beltran from the right side.
"For me, he was the difference-maker tonight," Kreis said of Hartman.
After a scoreless first half, Dallas broke the tie in the 61st minute when Fabio Castillo scored from just inside the goal box on the left side off a great feed from Ferreira.
Castillo had hit Ferreira as he streaked down the left side and then got the ball back from Ferreira and beat Rimando with a shot into the right side of the net.
RSL had a couple of more chances, only to be rebuffed by Hartman. Then in the 76th minute, just seconds after Kyle Beckerman had entered the game to a rousing ovation, Real finally got on the board.
Off Javier Morales' corner kick, Alvaro Saborio headed the ball off the head of a Dallas defender, over Hartman and into the net.
With momentum on its side, RSL continued to attack and thought they were going to get the go-ahead goal. But suddenly the ball was going the other way and Brek Shea hit Ferreira, who was so wide open he had time to measure his shot against Rimando and fire it into the right top corner.
"That score came off an aggressive decision," Kreis said. "We were trying to go for the win."
Beltran said, "We played some good soccer tonight, but a couple of individual mistakes killed us. We had the crowd behind us and felt like we were going to get a goal and then that happens."
RSL NOTES: Real Salt Lake will play Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium against Panamanian club FC Tauro in a CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage. … In two previous meetings with Dallas this season, RSL won 3-2 on May 26 and the two teams tied 1-1 on April 25. … Four RSL regulars didn't start because of recent international action and upcoming games. Saborio and Beckerman didn't play until the second half, while Will Johnson and Jamison Olave never left the bench. …Yordany Alvarez, Paulo Jr., Luis Gil and Kwame Watson-Siriboe got starts in place of the aforementioned players. … The crowd of 20,281 was the sixth sellout of the season at Rio Tinto Stadium.