Sandy • No one promised it would always be attractive, awe-inspiring soccer.
Inside yet another sold-out evening within Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake — yes, unbeaten still — was left searching for two more points. Facing a struggling FC Dallas which had lost five of its previous six matches entering Saturday’s Western Conference meeting, RSL came across a club it couldn’t unlock after 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw.
RSL 0, FC Dallas 0
FC Dallas 0 0 — 0
RSL 0 0 — 0
First half » None. Second half » None.
Goalies » FC Dallas, Chris Seitz Real Salt Lake, Jeff Attinella.
Yellow Cards » Beltran, Real Salt Lake, 61st Ulloa, FC Dallas, 67th Hedges, FC Dallas, 80th Castillo, FC Dallas, 83rd Morales, Real Salt Lake, 85th.
Referee » Hilario Grajeda. Assistant Referees » Corey Rockwell. Baboucarr Jallow. 4th Official » Armando Villarreal.
Attendance » 20,488 (20,008)
FC Dallas » Chris Seitz, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Zach Loyd, Moises Hernandez (Jair Benitez, 90th+), Adam Moffat, Victor Ulloa, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tesho Akindele (Andres Escobar, 82nd), Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo (Stephen Keel, 90th+).
Real Salt Lake » Jeff Attinella, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, Luke Mulholland (Luis Gil, 82nd), Cole Grossman, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Joao Plata (Olmes Garcia, 42nd), Devon Sandoval (Robbie Findley, 65th).
"Kind of a sloppy game, both ways a little bit," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy.
Regardless, playing on three days rest since its 2-1 loss at the L.A. Galaxy Wednesday evening, FC Dallas strolled into Sandy and picked up a point. While that may signal better days ahead for Dallas, RSL went goal-less for the first time since April 5 and couldn’t manage to utilize dominating possession to its advantage.
Pressing forward in the second half in search for a winner, RSL came up empty. Crosses were whipped in, passes were knocked back and forth around the box, flicks were sent toward teammates, but nothing came of it. In all, RSL had 15 shots on target, but only one was recorded as an official shot on goal.
"We just started off too passive," said RSL coach Jeff Cassar. "We’re extremely aggressive at home and I thought we didn’t come out with that aggressiveness. We spoke about it and we were moving the ball nice and we had nice possession, but we didn’t have possession with purpose. It’s something we’ll address and we’ll work on breaking down teams when they sit there."
Still without a loss and two points behind league-leading Seattle Sounders with 24 points at 6-0-6, RSL notched a result, but saw three points slip away. Adding one point to its 2014 portfolio was an accomplishment. RSL’s 12-game unbeaten streak to start the year is tied for the longest unbeaten start to a Major League Soccer season.
As has been the case, RSL wasn’t celebrating matching history.
"I’m happy with the [shutout]," said defender Chris Wingert, "but I wish we would have won the game."
Another lasting impression of the match will be the loss of Joao Plata. The emerging star forward left the match in the 40th minute with a left hamstring injury, the same hamstring he pulled up lame with in RSL’s home opener against L.A. on March 22. The 22-year-old, who has tallied six goals for RSL in 2014, suffered a slight hamstring pull and have tests done Monday.
How long Plata will be missed remains up in the air. Often having its way with other clubs early through the season, RSL couldn’t figure FC Dallas out. After threatening RSL several times in the first half, Dallas put some men behind the ball in the final 45-minute frame and dared RSL to make a move.
"We just had a tough time kind of creating chances through possession tonight," said defender Nat Borchers. "That’s how it’s going be some nights."
Next up? A trip to CenturyLink Field as the two top teams in MLS face off in Seattle with the best record in the league — and the Western Conference — on the line. That a difficult slate to enter the World Cup break: Three matches in seven days at Seattle, at Columbus and home against Portland.
No time to dwell on a 0-0 draw at Rio Tinto.
"If we’re getting results when our soccer’s not particularly great," Cassar said, "I think that’s huge."
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