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Real Salt Lake: RSL ends season in goal-scoring deep freeze

Published November 9, 2012 6:01 pm

Kreis says everybody had hand in team's failure to score.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • Winter arrived in Utah on Friday morning, only hours after Real Salt Lake's offensive deep freeze continued in its final game of the 2012 season.

RSL's 1-0 loss to Seattle in Game 2 of their Major League Soccer playoff series was its fifth straight match without a goal, going back to the regular season and Champions League play.

Among the shutouts:

• The finale against Seattle in front of 19,657 disappointed fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.

• Game 1 of the playoffs against the Sounders, which ended in a 0-0 standoff.

• A regular-season scoreless draw at Seattle, where the Sounders played short a man for 60 minutes because of a red card.

• A 1-0 CONCACAF home loss against Herediano, which eliminated RSL from the competition.

• A home draw against Vancouver, which finished as the Western Conference's fifth-best team.

In all, Real Salt Lake failed to score in 15 games this season, including the final 513 minutes.

"It's important to try to figure out exactly why you're not scoring those goals," coach Jason Kreis said.

Referring to the Game 2 loss to Seattle, Kreis said, "For me, [we] created the right number of chances. Maybe a few decisions were wrong in the final third — about where the ball needs to go and when it needs to go.

"I think the stance that most people would take is that it all falls on the forwards. But not for me. It falls on everybody to create good goal-scoring chances and to take goal-scoring chances."

Balance on the attack has been an issue for Real Salt Lake, especially down the stretch. Forward Alvaro Saborio scored 17 goals this season, and striker Fabian Espindola had nine. Nobody else scored more than four.

Oddly, RSL finished the season with a franchise-record 46 goals. It scored three or more goals seven times, but only twice since June 16.

Real Salt Lake's 180 scoreless minutes in the playoffs put an exclamation point on the perplexing problem of a sputtering attack.

Truth be told, RSL forced Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to make a season-high nine saves in Game 2. But none of those shots forced him to do anything spectacular.

He was simply solid, which was good enough against Real Salt Lake.

RSL's best chance came in the 19th minute.

Paulo Jr. slipped between defenders and got his foot on a pass from Kenny Mansally. But his redirection went just wide of the goal.

"I don't think we were anxious," said midfielder Will Johnson. "Everybody believed we would get a goal, one way or the other. This team has scored a lot of goals over the years. It seems bizarre that, all of a sudden, we couldn't find the back of the net." —

RSL's top scorers this season:

Player Shots Goals Assists

Alvaro Saborio 87 17 3

Fabian Espindola 69 9 7

Kyle Beckerman 38 4 4

Javier Morales 31 3 9

Will Johnson 36 3 3 —

MLS playoffs

EASTERN CONFERENCE

D.C. United vs. New York

Saturday • N.Y. 1, D.C. 1

Thursday • D.C. United 1, New York 0 (D.C. United advances on 2-1 aggregate)

Kansas City vs. Houston

Sunday • Houston 2, K.C. 0

Wednesday • K.C. 1, Houston 0 (Houston advances on 2-1 aggregate)

Finals

Sunday • Houston vs. D.C. United, 2 p.m.

Nov. 18 • Houston vs. D.C. United, 2 p.m.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

San Jose vs. Los Angeles

Sunday • San Jose 1, L.A. 0

Wednesday • L.A. 3, San Jose 1, (L.A. advances on 3-2 aggregate)

Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake

Friday • RSL 0, Seattle 0

Thursday • Seattle 1, RSL 0 (Seattle advances on 1-0 aggregate)

Finals

Sunday • Los Angeles vs. Seattle, 7 p.m.

Nov. 18 • Los Angeles vs. Seattle, 7 p.m.

MLS Cup • Dec. 1, 2:30 p.m.