It is bad enough when you basically let a player get away–or don’t do anything to keep him. Such was the deal with former Real Salt Lake defender extraordinaire Nat Borchers, whom the club let go to the Portland Timbers this past offseason.
But when you lose the guy again on a corner kick in the dying moments of a make-or-break Western Conference game–one with major playoff implications–when he is wearing a different uniform, well, you may as well find some corner of the stadium in which to hide and never show your face.
The first question RSL fans want to know is where was Sebastian Jaime and what did he do with the individual in question–or Borchers–who is well known and surgical in his heading ability?
Bottom line, Borchers had acres of space in which to operate on this 95th minute corner kick Saturday in front of 20,000 screaming fans. RSL was literally seconds away from gaining at least one point in the race for the sixth and final playoff spot in the West.
But all Borchers did was come back to the place where he once reigned as king of the 18, arose like a proud salmon–if a salmon had a long red beard and wore a green Adidas jersey–and snapped down the game winner at the death to score THE GOAL to help his Timbers win, 1-0.
“I was just trying to get separation in the back post and (Diego) Valeri had an unbelievable ball. Then I just wanted to put it on that and really just give myself a chance and it went in and I didn’t want to celebrate in front of my former club,” said Borchers. “I mean, there’s too many emotions and they had been too good to me for me to do that to them, so it was an emotional goal. One of the most emotional I’ve ever scored.”
Funny, because you couldn’t really tell. Borchers celebration was so subdued after scoring what was obviously a huge goal for his new team that if you were watching the game for the first time you would have been hard pressed to know something monumental happened.
In fact, if you were looking at the replay for the first time you would have thought Borchers gave up the game winner. In another strange way, it looked as if HE almost felt sorry for having to do that to his old team.
You could hardly blame the guy. Imagine if RSL still had Borchers. It still might be in the US Open Cup and might have won a few more games.
You could kind of see why Borchers acted the way he did. The RSL defense has been horrible lately, a shell of its old resolute self. The coaching has been suspect–in fact, the head coach didn’t even coach this game because he got a red card in the last game–and the attacking is showing signs of life, but not nearly enough to make a difference.
As for the fans, they couldn’t exit the Riot quickly enough, fanning out in all different directions, mumbling things under their breath as they sought cars in which they could hide and then exit this Saturday nightmare.
The frustration later spilled over to Twitter, where RSL faithful might have displayed their displeasure towards A) the current regime running things at RSL HQ; B) RSL head coach Jeff Cassar and C) all of the above. If you answered C, you are indeed correct and win–wait for it–nothing.
The hashtag #CassarOut is also gaining steam in Salt Lake City as the club continues to crash out of big games. In fact, one fan has changed his profile name to the ever-popular hashtag. For those fans, there’s always church or alcohol–or both.
In hindsight, RSL fans lost a lot more than one game Saturday. Instead of being within three points of that sixth spot, the claret and cobalt are now six full points behind Seattle–next week’s opponent at the Riot–for the sixth and final spot.
If you’re counting at home, RSL has won few games away from the friendly confines of the Riot–a bad sign considering it only has five home and five away games left in the regular season. It’s a bad situation all the way around–except for Borchers new team, of course.
“He is a winner; I’m happy to see him score a goal at the end,” said Portland head coach Caleb Porter. “Obviously it’s difficult to play against your former team. I know playing for Salt Lake meant a lot to him. He had a lot of good years here.”