The start of Real Salt Lake's CONCACAF Champions League campaign could have gone worse on Tuesday night in San Jose, Costa Rica, but not much worse.
RSL gave up an early goal to the home team, missed some good chances, had a player sent off, and then had their best defender suffer an injury just two minutes later.
The result was an opening 1-0 loss to the defending Costa Rica champions, a loss that leaves RSL in a hole with just three group matches remaining.
Elias Aguilar delivered the eventual game-winning goal in the 13th minute when he faked out Kyle Beckerman and placed a left-footed shot past Nick Rimando. RSL had chances to equalize, but sent shots just wide, with Fabian Espindola coming closest in the 30th minute. Herediano goalkeeper Leonel Moreira stepped up to the other challenges, staying aggressive in the penalty area and thwarting a handful of threats.
RSL came out strong in the second half, but a terrible two minutes saw Nat Borchers issued a red card for a late tackle and Jamison Olave sidelined by a leg injury. All of a sudden, RSL was missing both starting centerbacks, and playing down a man. They kept pressing for an equalizer, but eventually had to sit back and settle for the one-goal loss.
"I'm okay with this," RSL head coach Jason Kreis told ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City after the loss. "To suffer a really harsh decision with the red card in the 56th, 57th minute, whatever it was, to have to play a man down for the remaining 30-plus minutes.
"You have to feel okay with walking out of here down a goal basically in what's going to turn into a home-and-away series, if we can manage to take care of our business against Tauro, which we will hope to."
The victory puts Herediano in control of a group that includes Tauro FC. RSL will look to rebound with a pair of matches against the Panamaian side (Aug. 21st and Sept. 18th) before closing out group play with a rematch against Herediano at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 23rd.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? See RSL recovering from this group-opening loss? Surprised by how well Herediano played?
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