SANDY -- While it arguably did everything right in the build-up and approach, Real Salt Lake couldn't dial home the result it was seeking Tuesday night.
Despite having its ownership shell out what was likely a five-figure buyout to purchase hosting rights, and a stellar crowd of more than 17,000 fans, Salt Lake's run in the 2012 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ended with a whimper in a 3-1 setback to the Minnesota Stars at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"First and foremost I want to make sure do the right thing and give credit to Minnesota," RSL boss Jason Kreis said. "They presented us some tactical problems we never quite solved them. From minute one to minute 90 it looked like they wanted it more than we did.
"We've been preaching the same message to our team for many, many years here, which is if they're not going to be fully committed to the game, they're not going to get results. And tonight they came in about 75 percent and thought was going to be good enough and it clearly was not."
Kreis promised a serious approach to the Open Cup, and backed up that talk, as RSL started as much of its first-choice lineup as was possible, with just one of the team's available mainstays, defender Tony Beltran, not getting the starting nod, although he came on at halftime.
In fact, the team started eight of the same players that started its MLS league match on Saturday.
"Guys have to realize if they're not giving 100 percent work rate, it's usually not good enough," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "Winning is a habit. This is a different team than 2009 or 2010. I sometimes think we feel too good about ourselves. It's a different group, and we haven't won anything for a while. I think winning is a habit, and there's a lot of guys that still got to prove they can win games ... whether it's reserve league, first team, exhibition, games in training, at this level it's all about winning, period."
Real's troubles started from the word go, as Minnesota's Kevin Venegas scored in the third minute to put the Stars ahead 1-0.
Salt Lake battled back to tie it at 1-1 on Luis Gil's 29th minute tally, but Minnesota's Neil Hlavaty converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute to regain the lead at the break.
The Stars all but slammed the door in the 58th, with Simone Bracalello knocking home Brian Kallman's assist for a 3-1 lead.
"I think we owe a debt of gratitude and apology first and foremost to our ownership and to the management for pulling strings and working extremely hard to get the match here, and we owe an apology to our fans because that was a terrific crowd for an Open Cup match, and we let them down miserably."
The announced crowd of 17,212 at Rio Tinto Stadium was the largest non-final crowd in U.S. Open Cup history.