Scoreless draw puts RSL in good spot
Seattle •Â Three points would have been nice for Real Salt Lake.
But one was enough.
That was the consensus in the locker room after RSL failed to punish the Seattle Sounders, who played a man down for the final hour of a scoreless draw in front of 38,356 mostly angry fans at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night.
"At the end of it all, a result is a result," coach Jason Kreis said. "One point was our baseline objective. â¦ We felt like if we could get one point, we could control our own destiny in the last weekend of the season."
That's exactly what happened.
RSL will head into its regular-season finale Oct. 27 knowing that even a draw against Vancouver at home will clinch a top-three finish in the MLS Western Conference, keeping it out of the dreaded new wild-card playoff game.
"One point is acceptable right now," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Rimando returned from international duty in time to start for RSL team co-owner Dell Loy Hansen had them flown to Seattle from Kansas City on his private plane Â but forward Alvaro Saborio and midfielder Will Johnson were still away.
The team seemed to suffer in their absence, failing to generate much against a Sounders team that played as if its life depended on the outcome, even after defender Zach Scott was ejected to much fan disgust with a second yellow card in the 30th minute.
That further depleted a back line that had been ravaged by injuries and international absenses ÂÂ three regular starters were missing, and Mike Seamon was subbed in for his first action of the season yet RSL never could take advantage.
Even Kreis acknowledged that given the situation, "we probably should score a goal."
And, well â¦ his team almost did, in the dying minutes.
Defender Chris Schuler, in for injured Jamison Olave, forced a sprawling save by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with a quick left-footed shot from inside the box. And moments later, rookie Sebastian Velasquez fired a ball that ricocheted off Seattle's Andy Rose and between Gspurning's legs â¦ only to have Gspurning scramble to knock it out of bounds just at the post.
"Maybe on a different night, we walk out of here with all three points and we feel fantastic about it," Kreis said.
As it stands, though, it's hard not to feel as though the lackluster performance dulled the momentum that had started to build during a three-game winning streak during which RSL outscored its opponents 8-2.
At least the team posted its fourth shutout in seven games, moving to 17-11-5 for 56 points while the Sounders stayed in the mix at 14-7-11 for 53 points. The Los Angeles Galaxy have 50 points, with two games left theÂ same as the Sounders.
"We had our chances," Rimando said. "Their goalkeeper made some great saves, and you have to give credit to Seattle. They worked hard for that point tonight."
R IN SHORT • RSL settles for a scoreless draw against 10-man Seattle, keeping it in control of its playoff destiny.
KEY STAT • RSL has four shutouts in its last seven games.
KEY MOMENT • Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning scrambles to make two big saves in stoppage time to deny RSL the win.