Coming into Saturday’s game between Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution, both coaches had talked about different mindsets of their teams.
RSL interim coach Freddy Juarez said during the week that the club did not have to win all four of its remaining games. He mentioned that a tie would be sufficient, especially on the road, because Real was confident about its last two home games.
Revolution coach Bruce Arena, on the other hand, sent a different message. He told local media that the game against RSL was “a must-win” for his team.
After 90 minutes at Gillette Stadium, it looked like only one of those coaches came off the field happy.
With playoff positioning on the line for both teams, RSL and New England played to scoreless draw. It was only the second scoreless draw of the season for each team.
RSL stayed in the fourth spot of the Western Conference standings with 47 points, but the L.A. Galaxy are just two points behind. The Galaxy were to play later on Saturday.
Juarez told KMYU after the game that he was proud of how his team played defensively, particularly the back line. He also made sure to mention goalkeeper Andrew Putna, who started in place of Nick Rimando and earned his second shutout of the season.
“Overall, very good game from everybody,” Juarez said.
RSL may have dodged a bullet based on the numbers. The Revolution outshot Real 23-9, but only three of those were on frame. Salt Lake also had three shots on target.
But it was RSL’s defense that was notable throughout the match. Several of New England’s balls into the 18-yard box were blocked before they could turn into any real opportunities. Then there was Putna, who said he was happy with the way the entire team stuck to the game plan.
“It was just grit,” Putna said of how RSL played. “We knew we just had to come out and not chase the game, just let it come to us.”
Chasing the game is what RSL did against Minnesota United last weekend. It ended up in a 3-1 loss.
But against New England, RSL stayed disciplined defensively and seemed content not having many chances at goal. Juarez said the plan was to get a draw out of Saturday’s game, and maybe sneak a win on the road if possible.
After about 20 minutes of even play, RSL began to break through. Both Sam Johnson and Corey Baird seemed to have good chances at a shot on goal, but Johnson’s attempt missed wide and Baird fell down near the goal.
Late in the game, the Revolution had their best chance to score. Brandon Bye leapt over everyone in the box on a cross and headed a shot, but it hit the right corner of the crossbar.
• Real Salt Lake shuts out New England despite 23-9 shot disparity.
• Andrew Putna records his second shutout in five starts.
• RSL earns its second scoreless draw of season.