RSL draws with Sporting Kansas City in first preseason game

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) New Real Salt Lake coach Freddy Juarez is introduced during a news conference at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday Dec. 3, 2019.

Real Salt Lake’s first foray into Major League Soccer competition this preseason ended in a scoreless draw Saturday against Sporting Kansas City in Tucson, Ariz.

RSL’s two best chances of the game came in the second half after the 70th minute. Defender Justen Glad’s headed attempt was saved, and forward Tate Schmitt’s shot three minutes later was blocked.

Sporting Kansas City’s Johnny Russell had a free kick from about 20 yards in the 83rd minute that he tried to chip into the goal, but it went wide left.

There wasn’t much action in the way of scoring opportunities for either team in the first 45 minutes.

RSL coach Freddy Juarez opted to start Zack MacMath in goal and Justin Meram as a forward. Both players are new to Salt Lake this season, giving an early indication of how well they’ve played throughout preseason up to this point.

That’s particularly the case with MacMath, who is vying for the starting goalkeeper job along with David Ochoa and Andrew Putna. The veteran getting the nod against Sporting KC could provide a hint into Juarez’s thinking on which of those three players will win the spot.

Ochoa replaced MacMath at halftime and provided two good saves, the second being an acrobatic one diving to his right side. He played all 45 minutes in the second half.

Juarez also started five defenders, but put one of them very high up the field. Aaron Herrera played mainly on the right wing, a position he did not occupy last season. Glad defended on the right side, which is where Herrera played a year ago.

Many of RSL’s starters played the full 90 minutes, including 37-year-old midfielder Kyle Beckerman. Midfielder Damir Kreilach started but left after 30 minutes. Meram also played only 30 minutes.