Real Salt Lake shores up defense, now seeking some goals
Sandy • Not surprisingly, Real Salt Lake took plenty of pride in throwing a shutout at Seattle on Wednesday, its seventh of the season.
There was, however, the little matter about scoring goals.
There weren't any for RSL (10-6-3), which makes it two MLS games in a row that Real hasn't put the ball into the net, something they will try to rectify Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium against Portland.
Not that there weren't chances. RSL had several clear-cut opportunities to push a ball past Sounders keeper Bryan Meredith. RSL forward Alvaro Saborio was off target on two clear header chances and was judged offside in a close decision that took away a goal in the second half.
But you have to walk before you can run.
"We made some mistakes in the [three] games we lost, but it wasn't that the soccer wasn't there," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We're playing good soccer, and trying to play the right way. A couple of our mistakes we made were really costly."
Seattle's best scoring chance came in the 88th minute as an onrushing Cordell Cato was an instant too late in slotting a cross deep inside the RSL 18-yard box, stopped by scrambling Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando.
However, by the end, the Sounders, who are now winless in nine straight, were stalling and dropping the entire team back to play defense.
"We tried, and they played ugly and defended well," RSL forward Fabian Espindola said. "When you get chances you have to score and we did not, so you have to keep trying."
Defensively, coach Jason Kreis' gamble to start newcomers Kenny Mansally, named the defensive player of the game, and Kwame Watson-Siriboe paid off in more ways than one.
First, the two signings give RSL depth and more speed in the back. Secondly, it allowed Jamison Olave (calf strain) and Ned Grabavoy (abductor strain) more rest. Grabavoy was able to play the final 28 minutes. Defender Tony Beltran was also unavailable due to a groin pull June 30 at Columbus.
Beltran is expected to be available against Portland.
"I'm really pleased," Kreis said. "Kenny's been with us now a couple of weeks, and we've had a couple of times to work with him individually so I felt like he was really ready for his opportunity. And then Kwame, he's a guy that's only been with us a week and because we've had so many games he really hasn't had a full training session, so we rolled the dice a little on that one and I think he came clean as well."
Portland at RSL
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30