(by Kira Terry ksl.com 10-24-12)
Real Salt Lake played its final 2012-13 Champions League match Tuesday night as the Costa Rican club C.S. Herediano held the Salt Lake club to a scoreless match, ending its CONCACAF hopes.
A result that RSL fought hard to avoid.
“It’s a tough one to take,” said RSL Captain and midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “We created enough chances to score four or five tonight, but we didn’t and so we’re not moving on.”
RSL head coach Jason Kreis agreed with Beckerman on the result being a tough one, despite the fight his club put up.
“I think it’s always going to be a little mentally frustrating when you get some clear chances and you don’t take them, but I think our guys put all the right effort into it,” said Kreis. “Herediano made it very difficult.”
RSL entered game needing either a 1-0 win or a two goal win over Herediano in order to advance to the next stage of Champions League play in 2013. Instead, Herediano held RSL to a 0-0 draw, enough for the Costa Rican club to advance.
Playing without its leading scorer, Alvaro Saborio, due to a yellow-card suspension, RSL wasn’t able to put a way any goals in the first half despite its seven shots on goal and a plethora of chances the Salt Lake side created, forcing RSL into the second half tied 0-0 with the Costa Rican club.
“We know (Saborio’s) an important player,” said Kreis. “(Saborio) seems to be the one that always is able to take that initial play in the penalty box to make the difference. When we play without him we don’t typically have someone that’s always in the box, always there to make that finish for us.”
Despite the result, Kreis had nothing but positive things to say about his roster and the match RSL played.
“(I'm) really, really, really proud of the men out there,” said Kreis. “At halftime I told them their performance was spectacular. We did all the things that we needed to do to win these big games except that final touch.”
“I’m pleased,” Kreis continued. “Watching them the first half, I felt like it was the first game of the playoffs last year or some of the playoff games in 2009 — just some of our very best stuff.”
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando completely agreed with his boss.
“I thought we played great, I really did,” said Rimando. “I thought (a goal) was going to come, but that’s football sometimes. It gets the best of you even when you’re the better team. But congratulations to (Herediano), they played a great defensive game and they came out on top and give credit to them.”
The Claret and Cobalt don’t have much down time before returning to the pitch and other big upcoming matches.
“We need to move forward very quickly because we’ve got a pretty big tournament of our own in front of us,” said Kreis.
A sellout crowd of 20,436 packed Rio Tinto Stadium and stuck out the 90+ minutes of steady rain. Tuesday night’s sellout crowd was the fifth consecutive for RSL and the 10th this season, extending the Salt Lake clubs season record.
“We don’t get enough opportunities to say again how much we appreciate our fans,” said Kreis. “I thought they were awesome tonight and our group really feeds off of the energy that the fans can provide so together we performed – the fans, the team – very well, we were just unlucky.”