Commerce City, Colo. • Real Salt Lake played a fifth consecutive game without a victory.
RSL didn't win, but it didn't lose, either, Friday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Stadium. And at this stage of the season, with third place in the MLS Western Conference at stake, every point is vital.
More importantly, Real took care, most of the time, to the details and defended with a purpose.
"Everybody in the midfield did a good job today," said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who graded his team's effort as high as a B+. "We got a zero and a shutout in this [hostile] environement."
There's no doubt that, despite a few brief glimpses of offense in a physical game that saw five yellow cards, Colorado outplayed Salt Lake. That the game finished without a goal was due only to Rimando's quick hands and the luck of the soccer gods.
Maybe only the spin of the ball saved RSL's shutout and point. In the 84th minute, Caleb Folan's header caromed off the bottom of the Salt Lake crossbar, headed straight down onto the goal line.
The spin took the ball back toward play, and RSL forward Alvaro Saborio cleared the danger with an athletic bicycle kick.
As the Rapids raged against their luck, Real continued to hang on by its fingernails.
"Tonight, to walk out of here [with a point] means something to us," RSL coach Jason Kreis said about snapping four-game losing streak. "It was a challenge we presented to [RSL's players] this week. Next week, we have to do some of the same things."
In the end, RSL (15-11-7) earned its fifth consecutive Rocky Mountain Cup, having beaten Colorado (11-9-13) earlier this season 1-0 in Rio Tinto Stadium. A loud contingent of Salt Lake fans made themselves heard throughout.
"[The trophy] means a lot to our fans, so it means a lot to us," Rimando said.
The Rapids dominated possession nearly 60-40 and outshot RSL 13-4. At least three times in the second half, including the fortunate bounce off the goal line, Colorado had all but put the ball into the net.
"Some of that [possession] came from our players focusing on defending tonight," Kreis said.
In the 82nd minute, Rimando again saved RSL's chances by pushing a Folan chance over the crossbar.
In the first half, midfielder Wells Thompson had the ball at his feet at the corner of the 8-yard box but couldn't get off a shot.
R Colorado outshoots RSL 12-4.
• The Rapids dominate possession nearly 60-40.
• RSL snaps a four-game losing streak.