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New England endures a disappointing home effort against weakened Real Salt Lake, and coach Steve Nicol refuses to hide behind excuses.

The New England Revolution received their first loss of the season Saturday evening. Poor possession and going two men down had a lot to do with the negative result.

Head coach Steve Nicol talked about the teams performance before the two red cards that they received in the second half.

"There is no hiding behind it - we weren’t good," said the always blunt Nicol.

New England came out very flat from the start of the game and lost possession frequently. The long week of travel, with a midweek game in Vancouver, could have been a contributing factor in the poor performance.

"I think we had some fatigue," Nicol allowed. "We didn’t have any spring in our legs but at the same time we should have played better than we did, and we didn't."

Still, the uncompromising Englishman refused to hide behind excuses.

"It was unforgivable the way we lost the ball tonight. As much as I'm shell-shocked with the red cards and everything happening in the last 25 minutes of the game, it doesn’t hide the fact we got what we deserved tonight."

New England’s giveaways led to many counterattacks by Real Salt Lake. The usually solid Revolution defense had a hard time containing the play. This was the first game all season in which New England allowed conceded more than one goal in a match.

In one of the game's rare bright spots, New England saw the return of key player midfielder Marko Perovic. As the game wore on in the second Perovic shook off the rust, gained confidence and took a few shots on net.

What stands out most from the match were the red cards issued by referee Jason Anno, with key midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan being ejected. With an away match at Houston looming next weekend, the loss of the two central midfielders will hurt New England.

“It’s hard to swallow. We weren’t good tonight but we’ve lost Shalrie and Pat Phelan for next week,” Nicol said.

The former Liverpool defender did mention that injured midfielder Ousamne Dabo could be back in training with the team this week. The Revolution could also be boosted by their new signing Rajko Lekic, who will report to training on Tuesday.

You can follow Justin Churchill on Twitter @justintdc

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