SANDY — Giving up the first goal finally came back to get Real Salt Lake.

When RSL surrendered the game's first goal to New York in Saturday's Western Conference final, it marked the fifth time in the past six games it conceded the first goal.

In every one of those previous games, Real Salt Lake rallied to either win or tie the game.

Despite peppering New York with a ridiculous number of shots throughout the second half, Real Salt Lake couldn't quite pull back the equalizer.

"It definitely hurt us tonight. It was a mistake from us in the back and shouldn't have happened; we shouldn't have let Wolyniec get behind us," said RSL defender Nat Borchers. "It can be a cruel game, soccer. They played a good tactical game, and we didn't take advantage of chances."

RSL coach Jason Kreis said he saw the same fight out of his team in this game as he did all of the other games — the equalizer just never came.

"I really thought the fighting spirit of the team and the commitment level was very, very high. I'm so proud of our group," said Kreis.

During the regular season, RSL was only shut out nine teams, and it only lost 1-0 games on three occasions.

NO SECOND GUESSING: After the match, Kreis and a few of his players were asked if the team approached the Western Conference final with the right mentality.

They didn't hesitate to say yes.

"I think we were prepared. I don't think we should've done anything different in terms of coming into the match," Chris Wingert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. If you have a chance to get to get to the championship, it's going to be a tough game no matter who you play."

Kreis reiterated Wingert's assessment.

"I don't think New York did anything to trouble us all night except the one play they score on," said Kreis. "I don't have any regrets. Absolutely none.

A RARE APPEARANCE: New York becomes just the second No. 4 seed in MLS history to advance to the MLS Cup. The Red Bulls are obviously hoping to duplicate the success of the previous No. 4 seed. Back in 2005, in RSL's first year in the league, the L.A. Galaxy claimed the fourth and final playoff spot in the West but ended up claiming the championship a month later.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com