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Frisco, Texas • Nobody in the room could have felt worse than Javier Morales, who sat with his head down at his locker stall after being ejected from Real Salt Lake's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in the first leg of their Major League Soccer playoff series on Saturday.

The star midfielder was sent off with his second yellow card in the 69th minute, not only leaving his team with 10 men for the rest of the game at Pizza Hut Park, but assuring he will miss the second leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series with a suspension.

"Certainly, it will hurt," coach Jason Kreis said. "He's a very, very important player for us, as we know. But we've had him out for a stretch this season … and we got results without him, as well. We believe in what we've built here in this group and next week shouldn't be any different."

Team officials said Morales apologized to his teammates immediately after the game, but they, in turn, said he was unfortunate to have been ejected.

His first yellow card came in the 49th minute, when he touched FC Dallas' Daniel Hernandez near the cheek — seemingly in a gesture of apology. But Hernandez reacted dismissively by smacking Morales in the face back.

Both received yellow cards.

"From the interpretation we got from the referees, if you do that, it's a yellow card," Kreis said.

The second card came when Morales seemed to kick FC Dallas' Dax McCarty in the face as he turned to try to settle a high bouncing ball. McCarty went down, and Morales went to the locker room with the first red card of the season for RSL.

"It's always a challenge when you're missing a guy of his caliber," defender Chris Wingert said. "But we've missed different guys at different times and other guys have stepped up."

Case in point?

Last season's championship game, when Morales suffered an early injury and RSL went on to defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy for its inaugural MLS Cup.