MLS- Real Salt Lake

United holds RSL to scoreless stalemate



WASHINGTON – Two teams at opposite ends of the Major League Soccer spectrum. Two interesting takes on a scoreless draw.

Although D.C. United was able to keep its first clean sheet of the season in Saturday's 0-0 result against Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium, the Eastern Conference bottom feeders felt like they let a couple points slip away.

Although Real Salt Lake had its franchise-best winning streak snapped at five and scored just one goal, a penalty kick, in 210 minutes (Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup match included) against United, the feeling in the visitor's locker room was a sense of accomplishment.

"It was a well-earned, hard-fought-for draw," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "The most important thing was the shutout, because we've been stressing it every match for the past four, five matches and we've always found a way to come up short. To get it tonight is pleasing.

"For me, success tonight would be determined on how hard they wanted to work defensively and how committed they were to working together to defend, and they did those things."

Perhaps tempering the level of success was the right course of action for the MLS Cup holders. Six players who played 120 minutes on Wednesday started again on Saturday in repeated humid conditions that hardly resemble the dry Utah heat.

United came out with the fresher legs on Saturday, peppering Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando with early shots.

A 3rd-minute cross from Jordan Graye was almost tapped into Rimando's goal by Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers. Clyde Simms put a shot from distance on frame a minute later, and United had opportunities to score from two corners in the first seven minutes.

"They got a lot of room to play," said Rimando, a former United keeper. "A lot of guys had heavy legs, but at the same time, we bunkered in and found a way out. Sometimes we let that goal in and go down at half.

"We've been stressing that for a while. We've been winning games by three, four goals and we're still letting in a goal. If we weren't going to get the three points, we weren't going to let one up, and that was on the guys' minds."

Stephen King, acquired by D.C. from Seattle during the season, likely should have netted two second-half goals for United.

Twice he was gifted clean looks from about 10 yards out, and both times he fired off target. The misses marred what was otherwise another strong performance in central midfield.

"It's one of those games where, twice, you shoot it and you wish you had it back right away," King said. "It's one of those ties where it feels like a loss. Overall the past two weeks we've done pretty well, so in the grand scheme of things we're improving."

The biggest area of improvement for D.C. was the play of the defense, which held reigning MLS Player of the Month Alvaro Saborio off the scoresheet.

Troy Perkins was strong in goal, commanding the penalty area and reading crosses and corners to perfection. He thwarted three crosses targeting Saborio in the center of the box between the 67th and 80th minutes.

"(Saborio)'s very good in the air, and he's scored almost all his goals off crosses," Perkins said. "It's just having a sense of where he is and where they're trying to put the ball, and my defenders did a good job of making their service predictable."

Salt Lake's best chance was a 90th-minute shot from distance by Will Johnson, but Perkins was up to the task, diving to his left to prevent a late dagger.

"The guys in front of me tonight did an exceptional job of keeping the play in front of us. We frustrated the hell out of them," Perkins said. "Obviously we wanted three points to put ourselves a little higher up in the table, but a point is a point for us still. To come up with a clean sheet is very important as well."

Both teams have one more match before the two-week break for the World Cup. D.C. (2-8-1) will travel to Seattle trying to run its unbeaten streak (in all competitions) to five straight, and Salt Lake (6-3-2) will try to hand the Los Angeles Galaxy its first loss of the season.

"To come in here against a team that's on the rise and get a point is a good feeling, because we've got a tough one coming up on Wednesday," Rimando said. "(Los Angeles is) a good team. They're on a roll, they're winning without their big stars and that's a good thing for them. We like the matchup, we like being at home and we expect a good game."

  • fischy

    You can’t be too pleased with getting a shutout against United. They’ve been shutout as often as not in league play.


  • Brian

    Andy Najar is the truth! I only watched the highlighters on mlssoccer.com, but he was looking like Messi against some of those RSL defenders.

    Does this kid have US citizenship yet?


  • Brennan

    I think Real is taking too much positive out of this very very poorly played game.


  • Hincha Tim

    Not mentioned was that RSL was missing 5 potential starters due to injury, most from the midfield: Beckerman, N. Gonzalez, Wingert, Williams and Grabavoy. While Williams and Grabavoy eventually came in for the last 30 minutes, their absence in the first 60 minutes was obvious. Once they entered, RSL had the run of play in their favor.


  • Matt

    For RSL, anything but a loss on the road is a win. Both teams played like they were missing some core players, considering RSL was legitimately without a few key players, i don’t know what DC’s excuse was. Overall, i felt that DC could have won that game easily.


  • Slowman

    I may be overly optimistic, but the DC United put a decent team on the field last night. Dejan Jakovic was back to play center back so that gave is a bit of speed there. With 37 years old Juan Manuel Peña and 33 years old Carey Talley there, we were woefully slow. When he played, Talley seems to try to compensate for his loss of speed by making reckless, feet-first dive-in tackles. Mostly he misses, leaves the opponent in great position. His first tour through DC United he was a good player, it seems now time for him to get an MBA and a new career.

    The brightest improvement has come from young players. Jordan Graye, our only draft choice last year, 4’th round, from UNC, has developed well at right back. Rodney Wallace has played left back all season, and seems to be getting comfortable at the position. At outside mid-field, Andy Najar might be in time a star. He has had three great matches in succession, played the full 90 last night and was involved in almost all of the United’s attack. Watch the highlights. He is 17 years old, signed from United’s academy. His nationality is Honduras, though he seems to have been in the US for a long time. (a long time relative to 17 years)

    We are weak in front. Curt Onalfo seems to have settled on Santino Quaranta and Daniel Allsopp, but neither has done particularly well. Allsopp to my eye is slow and unskilled, why United signed him explainable only by the possibility that he works cheap. If he receives perfect service in front of goal, he sometimes gets off a good shot, but that seems the range of his talent. His credentials, from DC United web page:

    Allsopp joined United on January 18 from Qatari side Al-Rayyan, where he scored six goals in 12 matches. Before moving to the Middle East, Allsopp capped a brilliant club career in Australia, appearing four times and scoring one goal for the Melbourne Victory in the Hyundai A-League during the 2009-2010 season.

    Santino is a better soccer player, but does not seem comfortable in front. The alternatives from the bench are Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio. Jaime seems past the end of his career, he has been embarrassingly slow when he has played, seems never to get in a decent touch. Emilio has had a moment or two, but has not been used enough to fit in. He supposedly has a 3-month contract which provides that for United to keep him longer they would have to pay him a lot of money. The decision seems already made to let him go.

    Clyde Simms has played well in the middle, teamed with Stephen King, whom Seattle let go, or Curt Morsink, ex of KC.

    Troy Perkins seems back in form, along with youngster Bill Hamid, United is solid at keeper.

    This is not a great team, but perhaps capable of creeping up among the also-rans for playoff positions. Watching Najar and Graye develop adds interest, along with seeing Rodney Wallace settle in at left back. He is a better athlete than Mark Burch, who has played there the last few seasons, out now with injury.

    Since back from injury Chris Pontius has been OK in mid-field, maybe as the seasons goes he will pick up. I worry that there may be a pattern; Pontius, Wallace, Graye, adjust to the pace of MLS from college to show a lot of improvement their first season, then seem to top out at ‘competent.’ Jordan Graye is not yet Eddie Pope, but I hope.


  • Brennan

    Ya know that used to be a valid excuse. However it becomes superfilous when you look at Galaxys recent record.


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