You knew from the very start, when Carey Talley offered a dangerous header off a corner kick in the first minute, that this was not going to unfold as smoothly as United had hoped. Still, though, the opponent was Real Salt Lake, winless, hopeless Real Salt Lake, and at some point, United would shake off its altitude buzz, adjust to the artificial turf and break the spirit of an emotionally fragile team.
So much for that theory.
United lacked intensity until it was too late. It failed to maintain possession, never found a rhythm and yielded far too many opportunities to a club that was dead last in the league in scoring. The central defense played too high, allowing Robbie Findley to break free twice, and Jay Nolly couldn't come up with a big save to keep United in contention. Luciano Emilio worked hard to get a goal, but Kpene faltered at the end and United's bid to steal an undeserving draw fell short.
Now the club will have to do without Copa-bound Ben Olsen, Bobby Boswell and Jaime Moreno for at least two matches.
Player ratings? How low will they go?
Nolly 4; Namoff 4, Boswell 3, Erpen 3, Gros 4; Olsen 4, Carroll 4, Gomez 4, Fred 4; Dyachenko 3, Emilio 5. Subs: Kpene 4, Simms 4, Addlery 4.
Game report here. Bonus quotes down there.
I'm off to Chicago early Sunday for the Gold Cup final. If ever I needed a flight to arrive on time, it is this one. Come on, Southwest Airlines, you can do it.....
"We didn't come out with any intensity at all. We're a possession team, we don't match the intensity, we don't win balls, you are not going to keep the ball."
(On the field) "It doesn't make for a pretty game, obviously. We like to knock it around, but regardless of that, if you don't do the intensity part and work hard, you are going to come out on the wrong end of the game and that's exactly what we did."
(On the defense) "We talked about the only real threat being balls over the top and we got caught flat on the two goals. Their outlet offensively is to lay balls over the top and they did it twice and it hurt us."
(On Nolly) "He was strung out on one-on-ones. You hope he comes up with a save like that - sometimes you do, sometimes you don't - but we don't need to put him in those kind of situations."
(On Dyachenko) "He didn't have a good day."
(On Emilio) "He worked hard. At least he gave me some of the work I was looking for early, but I don't think we had enough guys tuned in and when you have - what? - six, seven out of 10 guys on the field not doing well, you are not going to do well."
"It's not hard to figure out what happened out there, you know?"
"I just don't think we came to play like we should have. Until we went down 2-0, I think they beat us to every second ball and they just outfought us and it showed."
"I think we prepared. It's one game a week and there's no excuse not to come out and play your hardest. For whatever reason, we didn't do that and it has nothing to do with the preparation from the week because everything was fine. We just didn't show up today."
"We couldn't play two touches in a row."
"We said before the game we have to watch them dump it behind us. But okay we're one down, we have to push up."
(On the second goal) "They played it to Findley and I push up and he touched it to Alecko and then Bobby pushed up. When he pushed up, we couldn't cover."
"I think we were trying to step up and once we got through the first 15 minutes when they were trying to play high, we started to want to play with them and press them, and I think we might've got caught too high and maybe underestimated how fast Findley is."
"I tried to cut the angle down as much as I could. The second one was a lot tougher, he's coming straight in, but I need to help out my team. I need to come up with one of those saves to keep us in the game. It's tough coming back here and having that happen."
(On the second goal) "It looked like both of our backs stepped up to both of their players and they got a lucky bounce through and he was just in clean. Maybe if we would have sat off a little bit and let him come at us instead of trying to be up their backs I don't think he would've been clean through. That's us trying to get three points on the road and pushing up like that. That's why we win a lot of games on the road because we will take those chances - sometimes you win 'em, sometimes you don't."
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