Jim Curtin was in a bad mood after the Union’s 4-0 blowout loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday, and for good reason.
“There are no positives to take away from that one,” he said. “We will obviously watch the film and — actually, we might burn the film.”
The score wasn’t the only lopsided statistic. The Union were outshot 14-5, including 8-0 in shots on goal. Yes, you read that right: they didn’t record a single shot on target. The only one that even could have counted was Andrew Wooten’s 76th minute goal that VAR ruled out because the cross to him went over the end line.
Real Salt Lake also held 56.5 percent of the possession, completed 345 passes to the Union’s 228, and created 13 chances to the Union’s three.
“We weren’t up for it, any way, shape or form,” Curtin said.
At the final whistle, the Union had suffered their first four-goal defeat since July 24, 2016. The Union have never won at Rio Tinto Stadium, with four losses and two ties in six all-time trips there.
“We lost our minds sometimes on the field,” said left back Fabinho, who was called into the lineup at the last minute when Kai Wagner couldn’t overcome a quadriceps injury. The Union only had six players on the bench instead of the usual seven because of that.
There were moments when the game did not feel so lopsided. But for the most part, the home team had the visitors’ number, especially when it came to cutting off service to starting forwards Fafa Picault and Kacper Przybylko.
“We hit on it, almost every avenue that we worked on this week and every specific detail that we spoke about. … Whether it was that they actually listened to me or they read the play in the moment, I don’t know,” said RSL manager Mike Petke, one of the league’s best personalities. “It made them look [like] not what you usually would see, because they’re a very good team. We play them 10 times home and away, it’s a coin flip on who wins the series.”
Six of the Union’s next seven games are against Eastern Conference opponents, including two each against rival D.C. United and the woeful Chicago Fire.
The Union are still in first place in the Eastern Conference, and have the second-highest points total in all of MLS. Their points per game average ranks No. 2 in the East and No. 6 leaguewide. So there is no need to panic. But Chicago’s visit on Saturday certainly feels right now like a must-win game.