But the team never gave up hope.
"Nobody panicked," said captain Kyle Beckerman. "We looked at each other and said, 'This team is ready to go down. Let's just get a goal here.'"
Joao Plata complied in the 72nd minute to cut the deficit in half. Then in the 90th minute, Alvaro Saborio may have gotten away with a hand ball as he scored the equalizer.
"I was actually fine with a tie," Beckerman admitted. "I'm like let's get out of here with a tie and get out of here. Then we started to see what was unfolding and sure enough, [Saborio] crosses it and we're going to win this thing."
Saborio delivered a perfect cross to Plata, who scored the game-winner in stoppage time completing an amazing comeback. RSL scored three goals in the final 21 minutes, sending the team into a state of absolute jublilation.
"After the game, you almost felt like you were a kid again," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "I think some of us commented in the locker room that that was some of the most fun we've ever had in the last 30 minutes of a game."
"I think it just shows the character of this team," said head coach Jeff Cassar. "From the guys on the field to even the guys off the field who subbed off. They were rooting their teammates on and it was all positive."
The win was especially gratifying after Real had just given up two late goals the previous week against Vancouver when they had to settle for a disappointing 2-2 draw. This time, the soccer gods shined on RSL.
"I believe in the soccer gods and pray to them every night before I go to bed," defender Nat Borchers joked. "I do believe there is some sort of luck in this game at times, but the more you practice the luckier you get."
Real Salt Lake is now 4-0-5 and still the only unbeaten team left in MLS.
"We know that if you go down a goal or two the rest of the season, we can come back," Borchers said.
RSL will try to extend that streak to ten Sunday night in Houston at 5:00 in a game that will be televised on CW-30.