As the rain poured down in Salt Lake City, it became ever-more apparent that defeating Herediano and progressing in the CONCACAF Champions League wasn't going to be easy.
As that rain turned to snow, Real Salt Lake froze up.
Grasping for a goal, RSL's ranks were found lacking. Without a player to cross into, Herediano saw no real problem keeping the scoreline empty.
Colder and colder, the rain, the elements, were nothing more than a distraction. They drenched the missed chances with a miserable, wet sheen. But as ever, past opportunities break free of distractions.
Like the rain, the missed opportunities soak through everything. They'll last longer than Saturday. They'll last longer than next week. They'll last longer than December 1 — if a bit optimism is still allowed after that.
It's clear that there will necessarily be changes — but those aren't coming today, and they're not coming before the playoffs.
If there ever was a time to forget about it and move on, it's now. There will be time to worry in December, in January. But now?
For 45 minutes, Jason Kreis's ranks played some of the best soccer they've played all season. Herediano were kept in by a bit of luck that rolled their way, some missed opportunities from RSL, and a lot of hard work and organization.
The following 45 minutes saw a defensive shift. Herediano knew a draw would send them through to the next round, and all power to them: They played for that. They stayed narrow, they stayed compact, and they kept men behind the ball.
We couldn't break that down. Few teams can. Without a wise, calm head in the form of Alvaro Saborio up front, we were left grasping at straws and gasping for breath. And still, chances were created, and RSL kept moving forward — fighting.
If there's anything to take from a painful defeat — not on paper, but in the bigger picture — it's that when things got tough, we got tougher. With the MLS Cup left to play for, that'll be essential.