RSL can't generate offense vs. struggling Rapids
Commerce City, Colo. • Mired in a franchise-worst losing streak, the Colorado Rapids were reminded all week of the importance of their upcoming game against Real Salt Lake.
"Sure, we felt pressure and there was pressure on us to win," Colorado midfielder Joseph Nane said. "We knew that if we did all that we needed to do, we could do something about it."
He scored his first career goal and Matt Pickens became the franchise's winningest goalkeeper as the Colorado Rapids snapped a six-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
The loss denied RSL a chance to take over first place in the Western Conference.
"Obviously, we're all disappointed," said RSL defender Tony Beltran. "We had the opportunity to take over first place, and we didn't take it. But still, it's just a big letdown. I think we could have done better tonight. I think at times the soccer was good but it wasn't a complete performance in any way."
Colorado (8-14-1) had been outscored 11-4 during the skid. The Rapids hadn't collected a point since a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers on June 30.
"We finally got the result we wanted," Colorado coach Oscar Pareja said. "Now we hope we can get out of the hole."
Pickens made one save as he posted his sixth shutout of the year and 38th of his career in gaining his 40th win with Colorado. He had been tied at 39 with Marcus Hahnemann.
"It was the kind of game a goalkeeper likes to see happen," Pickens said. "We were solid in front of me. We weren't going to give up a goal tonight."
Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan became the 15th player to appear in 300 MLS games.
Nane scored on a rebound after the Rapids had pressured Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Nane had missed a quality chance earlier in the game.
Real Salt Lake (13-8-3) had won two straight in MLS action and the loss kept it from moving into first place in the Western Conference past idle San Jose. Salt Lake also failed to complete a sweep of its three-game season series with Colorado.
"It is my strong belief in this league that almost every single time that a team wanting it more typically gets the result," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "I think the teams are evenly matched from San Jose at the top to the team at the bottom."
Real Salt Lake has been shut out in its past three road games.
Omar Cummings set up a wide-open shot by Nane in the 12th minute that Rimando moved over and caught with both hands.
Real Salt Lake had its only scoring chance of the first half, a header by former Skyline High star Justin Braun off a feed from Jonny Steele that Pickens batted away, in the 15th minute. The ball stayed loose near the crease, but Real Salt Lake couldn't get control.
"Obviously, it didn't go the way we wanted it to," Braun said. "I thought the team played well, though. In the first half we created some things and unfortunately we didn't get a goal, but we pushed for it in the second half and weren't able to get it. We've just got to get it behind us."
Nane's goal came after Jaime Castrillon had his shot blocked by defenders. The ball came right back to Nane, who sent a left-footed kick past Rimando just beneath the crossbar.
"Nothing to the goal," Nane said. "I stepped out and hit the shot."
Castrillon missed two chances to extend the lead in the second half. He missed a wide-open net in the 54th minute after a Real Salt Lake turnover and hit the left post with Rimando out of position in the 68th minute.
Storylines Rapids 1, RSL 0
R Colorado midfielder Joseph Nane scores the game's only goal in the 68th minute.
• RSL has been shut out in three straight road games.