RSL backup goalkeeper Jeff Attinella shines in 0-0 draw at Sporting K.C.
Published: April 5, 2014 10:18PM
Updated: April 12, 2014 07:44PM
image
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi, left, and Real Salt Lake defender Rich Balchan (25) race for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Kansas City, Kan. • Jeff Attinella thought he was going to get more playing time beginning next month as Real Salt Lake starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando heads to training camp with the U.S. national team preparing for this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Instead, Attinella’s time clock got moved up about a month, at least for one night. Attinella got the call in goal Saturday night in a rematch of last year’s Major League Soccer Cup final against Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park.
Attinella more than held his own, leading RSL to a 0-0 tie and a point in the Western Conference standings. He finished with eight saves.
“I was a bit nervous going in there,” said Attinella, who appeared in five matches and started four last season. “You play so late in the day that you have all day to just sit around and think about it. I was trying to keep my mind on anything but the game, but once we got here and I got a warm-up in, it felt good just to be out there again.”
Rimando injured his knee playing for the U.S. team in Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico. In addition to Rimando, RSL played without Tony Beltran, who sprained his ankle in Wednesday’s friendly, and defender Chris Wingert, who left last week’s game against Toronto with a groin injury. None of them made the trip.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar said Rimando and Beltran received MRIs on Thursday.
“After talking to the team doctors and the team trainers, we decided rather than risking further injury to just give them this weekend off and reevaluate them on Monday,” Cassar said.
With the tie, RSL remained undefeated on the young season, improving to 2-0-3. Sporting Kansas City went to 2-1-2.
Attinella faced his biggest challenges in the first half. He stopped Dom Dwyer’s breakaway attempt in the 11th minute. In the 27th minute, Attinella leapt for a one-handed block on a shot on goal by Seth Sinovic.
Then in the 34th minute, Attinella dove headfirst to his right to save a rocket shot by Benny Feilhaber.
“He commanded his box, but we have a ton of confidence in Jeff,” Cassar said. “He’s been training extremely well this year. We talked earlier in the week about taking your opportunities around with them, and Jeff did that tonight.”
Sporting Kansas City outshot RSL 20-5. RSL had a man advantage from the 83rd minute on after Sporting’s Oriol Rosell received a red card. Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, himself filling big shoes after the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen, finished with one save.
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy said it felt like RSL had just played here two weeks ago.
“It was just another road game for us,” Grabavoy said. “We didn’t have our best soccer tonight. But credit to our team. We showed that we could get a result in a different way.
“And I think that’s something positive to build on going forward throughout the season.”
RSL goes back on the road Saturday for a match at Philadelphia.

RSL 0, Sporting K.C. 0

R In a 0-0 draw in Kansas City, RSL plays without goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and defender Chris Wingert, who were injured.

• Since October 2007, RSL had played without the three in the lineup only once before (Sept. 28, 2013, a 1-0 win at Vancouver).

RSL 0, Sporting 0

Real Salt Lake 0 0 — 0

Sporting K.C. 0 0 — 0

Goalies—Real Salt Lake, Jeff Attinella; Sporting Kansas City, Eric Kronberg.

Yellow Cards—Schuler, Real Salt Lake, 39th; Myers, Sporting Kansas City, 76th; Borchers, Real Salt Lake, 87th; Bieler, Sporting Kansas City, 90th+.

Red Cards—Rosell, Sporting Kansas City, 83rd.

Referee—Armando Villarreal. Assistant Referees—Corey Parker. Craig Lowry. 4th Official—Fotis Bazakos.

A—19,838 (18,500)

Lineups

Real Salt Lake— Jeff Attinella, Nat Borchers, Abdoulie Mansally, Chris Schuler, Rich Balchan, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Luke Mulholland, 55th), Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval, 72nd), Alvaro Saborio.

Sporting Kansas City—Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Oriol Rosell, Sal Zizzo (Toni, 80th), Benny Feilhaber, Paulo Nagamura (Lawrence Olum, 85th), Dom Dwyer (Claudio Bieler, 76th), Graham Zusi.