Something about the Earthquakes of San Jose simply brings out the worst in Real Salt Lake.
Faced with its biggest match of the season thus far, Salt Lake rolled into Buck Shaw Stadium with a sail full of confidence.
When it was over, it left with its eyes fixed to the ground and its tail between its legs.
RSL boss Jason Kreis didn't sugarcoat it either.
"It started with a really lackluster first half," Kreis said. "At halftime, down 1-0, I thought we were in the game with a change, but everything fell apart with (Kyle Beckerman's) red card. Our team has lacked discipline this season, and that especially showed after we went down a man.
"Some of our guys sleep-walked through the game tonight. It doesn't get much bigger than this game, and I don't know how our guys didn't get up for it."
Real's intensity level and effort, at least from what could be gathered by watching the match on TV, wasn't nearly what it needed to be, right from the opening whistle and the Earthquakes put Real on its heels.
San Jose simply acted like a team that wanted to win the match more than Real did.
"(This game) made a statement that San Jose is a much better team than us. They have a lot of guys that bust a gut the whole game," Kreis said. "They are a very blue-collar team that knows that they need to work extremely hard and be together, and that's how you get a result. They obviously have some very talented players, but the way they play together is what puts them on top right now."
For Salt Lake, it was a massive step back after finally appearing to right the ship during a 3-0 win over Portland on July 7. Real had registered back-to-back shutouts and gotten back to its pass-oriented, possession-style offense.
Both of which was virtually non-existent during the 5-0 loss to the 'Quakes on Saturday, its third loss of the season to San Jose.
It also didn't help RSL's case much that Beckerman, central midfielder, and team captain, was ejected in the 57th minute after igniting a minor skirmish in retaliation for a hard foul, which was uncalled by referee Alan Chapman, suffered by playmaking midfielder Javier Morales near midfield.
It's easy to understand why Beckerman came back with hard foul of his own, given RSL's opponents in recent weeks have seemingly had unfettered license to attack Morales, but at the same time as the team captain, in a massive road match, he needed to keep his cool.
"Javier just got crushed," Beckerman told reporters after the match. "I just came in hard. They made a big deal out of it."
And now Real Salt Lake will once again have to find a way to bounce back, this time against rival Colorado at Rio Tinto Stadium this weekend in the second of three matches that will decide the 2012 version of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
And it'll have to do it without its captain and midfield anchor.
Beckerman named All-Star
Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman was named Sunday as one of 18 MLS All-Stars that will face UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea FC in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. (live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura starting at 6:30 p.m. MT).
Beckerman was selected to the team by D.C. United and MLS All-Star coach Ben Olsen, having missed out last Sunday on being named to the All-Star First XI voted on by fans. The 30-year-old defensive midfielder has now received All-Star recognition in six straight seasons, being named to the All-Star inactive list in 2007 and 2008 before earning a spot on the gameday roster in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Beckerman did not participate in the 2010 game because of injury.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com.