By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah. – Real Salt Lake was on the verge of making history heading into their match against FC Dallas. All they had to do was not lose and they would tie the longest unbeaten streak to start the season for an MLS team.
In a rather uneventful 90 minutes, FCD clogged the midfield and RSL was unable to do anything to break them down. The match ended 0-0 with each team securing a point.
There were only four shots on target all night for either side, with FCD logging three to RSL’s one. Dallas was perfectly content to sit back and wait for a chance at the break and their strategy saw them keep a clean sheet despite conceding a majority of the possession.
RSL head coach Jeff Cassar admitted that his team didn’t start the match with a lot of energy but was quick to praise Dallas for their defensive effort.
“I thought we came out flat in the first half,” Cassar said. “We were moving and possessing the ball but really with no purpose. I thought the second half we were much livelier. We were getting in their end a lot more. We were kind of missing that final ball but we have to give some credit to our opponents as well.”
FCD forward, Fabian Castillo, had as productive a night as you can without scoring, looking plenty dangerous when he was able to get on the end of the ball.
His best chance of the night came when RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella came out to grab a cross but mishandled it. Castillo took his shot off the half-volley but it was high over the goal. That was just the kind of night it was.
Despite Attinella’s momentary lapse, he had another tremendous match and secured his second clean sheet of the season.
“I thought he was excellent,” Cassar said. “I can’t remember a play that he played wrong. I think he’s getting more comfortable and more confident, and the players are extremely confident [in him], as well as the staff. He’s getting better and better, and more and more comfortable each game.”
RSL should feel disappointed with their effort tonight. Even though they were missing three of their starters to world cup duty and an injury forced an early Joao Plata exit, they should have been able to create a few more scoring chances.
Robbie Findley, who made his season debut as a sub, spoke about RSL’s lack of offense.
“At times there wasn’t really that spacing behind,” Findley said. “They were just sitting in, which I think was the game plan and they did a good job at it. It just seemed crowded at times in the middle of the field, but I just think that maybe we needed to create more opportunities.”
It’s not all doom and gloom for RSL however as they remain unbeaten and have tied the MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak to start the season.
When asked about the record, defender Chris Wingert deflected the accomplishment and instead focused on the match.
“I’m happy with the zero but I wish we would have won the game,” Wingert said. “But again I think it’s just too early to really even matter. I just am concerned with earning points. Usually, when we don’t earn three [points] at home we’re a bit disappointed. We know that we have a big week coming up, so now 100 percent focus on Seattle.”
Cassar summed up the mood in the RSL locker room well when he assessed their overall play in the match
“If we’re getting results when our soccer is not particularly great, I think that’s huge,” Cassar said. “So I was really proud of them and I thought there was a lot of guys out there that just gave it their all.”
RSL will need a much better performance from their team in the coming week as they head to Seattle to face the Sounders in a top-of-the-table clash. Their oft-touted depth will have to show up in one of the most raucous venues in all of MLS if they want to stand alone at the top of the record books.
Here are the match highlights: