Perhaps in order to gain an edge, Real Salt Lake's players visualized themselves beating the Columbus Crew. However, it's unlikely that any of them imagined giving up two first half goals to surrender their aggregate lead on the road.
It was no matter, however, as the Utah squad battled back to score three goals of their own and advance on a 4-2 aggregate the Eastern Conference finals.
"It's just a lot of intestinal fortitude," coach Jason Kreis told ESPN after the match. "It would have been very easy to close up shop down 2-0, but we didn't."
Midfielder Andy Williams, who was instrumental all throughout the match and who scored the final goal, concurred about the power of the team's spirit.
"Unfortunately, we put ourselves in the hole there today, down 2-0," said Williams. "But the guys battled well and we did well."
Williams also acknowledged that the goal Real Salt Lake scored at the close of the half created new momentum for the Utah team.
"It was a big penalty, right there at the half," said Williams. "Robbie (Findley) did well and we
woke up from our little slumber in the first half. Our midfield played
well, defense did well, Nicky (Rimando) played well - great job all around."
Kreis had no big secret for his team's success late in the season.
"A lot, lot, lot of hard work," Kreis emphasized. "If you work hard for something, you'll end up succeeding."
RSL will face either the Chicago Fire or the New England Revolution in the conference final.
There was no speculation about the upcoming opponent from Williams, however.
"We're just happy for tonight," said the veteran. "We'll take a couple of days off, watch the games this weekend and go on from there."
Though Real Salt Lake also made the conference final last season, they lost by a single goal to New York. Kreis hadn't forgotten.
"We're looking to improve from last year," the coach vowed.
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