Coming into Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was looking toward a draw as a minimum result, so as to avoid an extra playoff match with little preparatory time.
"One point was our baseline objective coming into the night," Kreis said after the match. "we felt if we could get one point, we could control our own destiny in the last week of the season, and make sure we don't have to play that wild card game."
Despite the objective coming into the match, Kreis was looking for more from his side after Seattle went down a man, but recognized the Sounders' defensive stance.
"I'm a bit of a perfectionist, look at it and say being up a man for sixty some odd minutes, we probably should score a goal," he said. "Credit to Seattle, it's not the easiest thing in the world to break a team down that is that committed to making sure that they get the point that they so desperately needed."
RSL right back Tony Beltran praised the side's concentration but would have preferred three points.
"When you have a man advantage, of course, you always want to take care of the win there," Beltran said. "I thought we did a pretty good job managing the game and they didn't get too many chances."
"We came here to try to win the game," Morales said. We tried to do it. Like I said, we tried to find the space. We worked hard to try to score a goal, but we couldn't do it."
Missing only two players through international duty led to a considerably better outlook than Kreis might have expected at the beginning of the week, but missing Alvaro Saborio and Will Johnson made things difficult for the side.
"It's a bit of a challenge," Kreis said. "Will is the type of player that when he gets time and space can run the ball at defensive players in the midfield and make them choose. I think we were just missing a little bit of that tonight.
"With Sabo, we all know what important player he is for us, with the way he holds the ball up for us and gives us a target to play to up front and with his finishing touches around the goal. That doesn't take away from the efforts that everyone else gave us tonight, everyone had another positive performance in my eyes."
Unsurprisingly, Kreis had no problem with the red card Ricardo Salazar showed to Zach Scott in the first half after a reckless tackle on Javier Morales.
"I think it was a straight red card," he said. "I don't think there was any question about it. It was a very, very dangerous tackle that stopped an attacking chance, so for me, no decision necessary there."
During a halftime interview, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid didn't mince words when asked about the red card.
"We have our 12th man, which is our fans," Schmid said. "They have their 12th man, which is Ricardo Salazar [the referee]."
With both sides inching toward another playoff meeting, it would be unwise to rule out more divisive comments and MLS-angering rants from either side.