Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United went into Friday’s Group D showdown with a chance to take control of the group, but instead of a group leader emerging, their match turned into a defensive stalemate.
RSL and the Loons played to a 0-0 draw, in a match with few truly dangerous chances. RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath made three saves while Minnesota United’s Tyler Miller made two saves to leave both teams with four points from two matches in Group D play.
Minnesota United nearly found the opener in first-half stoppage time when Robin Lod blasted a shot off the left post, taking an Osvaldo Alonso pass and beating MacMath, only to have his left-footed shot hit the woodwork.
MacMath denied Lod a chance at redemption early in the second half when he dove to his left to make a one-handed stop on a Lod chance. MacMath’s save came just seconds after Tyler Miller denied a Pablo Ruiz chance from distance.
It was a difficult night for RSL, which managed just two shots on goal, and saw star playmaker Albert Rusnak forced out of the match in the 34th minute with what appeared to be a hip flexor injury. Justin Meram replaced Rusnak.
Without Rusnak, RSL’s attack struggled to create chances, but RSL’s defense continued its strong start to the season, posting its third shutout in four matches so far this season.
Real Salt Lake concludes Group D action on Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City with a chance to secure first place in the group. Minnesota United faces winless Colorado on Wednesday in good position to secure a place in the knockout round.
Man of the Match
Chase Gasper. The Loons left back did well to contain Rusnak before Rusnak left in the 34th minute with an injury, then contained Justin Meram. In total, Rusnak and Meram combined for one shot and zero key passes while Gasper notched a game-high six interceptions.
Moment of the Match
Robin Lod’s shot off the post just before halftime could have turned the tide of the night, but RSL enjoyed some luck on the play.
Match to Forget
Corey Baird was largely invisible on a night when RSL simply couldn’t generate many dangerous attacking opportunities. Baird played 78 minutes and provided zero key passes and failed to complete a successful dribble after five attempts.