Sandy • After Real Salt Lake finished the regular season Saturday night with a scoreless draw against Vancouver — its third straight match without a goal — Kyle Beckerman pondered his team’s lack of offense.
Then, he smiled.
“If we can’t fix it,” Beckerman said, “we better practice penalty kicks.”
Real Salt Lake, of course, must improve its attack if it hopes to advance beyond an upcoming Western Conference playoff series against Seattle.
RSL’s scoreless streak has reached 302 minutes, which includes draws against the Whitecaps, the Sounders and Herediano in a Champions League match.
On the other hand, Real Salt Lake’s defense has been exceptional.
Against Vancouver, RSL allowed only five shots, including one keeper Kyle Reynish was required to save.
“It’s just one of those things,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. “It seems at different points of the year we were having trouble in the back but scoring a ton of goals.
“Now, the last couple of weeks, we’re real solid in back but having trouble putting some chances away. So we’re a little disappointed we didn’t get three points.”
According to Grabavoy, RSL had the Whitecaps “on their heels most of the game,” but simply failed to score off one of its 17 shots.
Coach Jason Kreis agreed, and suggested “little things here and there” have prevented RSL from winning its last three games, instead of settling for three draws.
“I’m going to take the half-full approach,” Kreis said.
RSL controlled the ball for most of half — especially in the opening minutes — but it could not finish with a goal.
Real Salt Lake’s best chances came in the sixth minute when forward Alvaro Saborio’s straight-away blast from distance slipped just outside the goal post.
In the 38th minute, Saborio got behind the defense and fired a rocket at Whitecap keeper Brad Knighton, but he deflected the ball over the crossbar.
“We were all over them,” said Kreis. “... The first half for me was a little better. I just think, tactically, we were in better spaces.”
Vancouver’s best chance came off a free kick from just outside the penalty area in the 36th minute. Alain Rochat put a sizzling shot on goal, but Reynish made the save.
The Whitecaps were more aggressive in the second half and it nearly paid off in the 57th minute, when Darren Mattocks headed a well-placed cross past Reynish.
Mattocks was ruled offside on the play, however, and Real Salt Lake survived the scare.
Moments later, RSL seemed ignited by the near-miss. Saborio had another shot on goal, but he was on the move and didn’t strike the ball solidly. It dribbled wide.
Real Salt Lake regrouped, and Fabian Espindola had the next opportunity to score. But his header floated wide.
It was RSL’s final chance until Saborio missed the net in the 90th minute.
“In the second half,” said Kreis, “we got ourselves a little bit stretched out, as we have a tendency to do.”
Said Beckerman: “It was just one of those stop-and-start [games]. Whistle, whistle. You couldn’t get into much of a flow. [But] there was some good stuff, so we’ll take the positives and work on it for next week.”
R Real Salt Lake settles for a 0-0 draw against Vancouver at Rio Tinto Stadium.
• RSL outshoots the Whitecaps, 17-5, but fails to score for the third straight match.