BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. For only the second time this season, Real Salt Lake held the opposition without a goal.
And that was exactly the aim entering Sunday's match at Toyota Park keep the struggling Chicago Fire from breaking from its current run of misery at the expense of a Real Salt Lake team that has yet to win this season.
"We sent them out to be a little more defensive and to be a little more compact and organized," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I think they executed that game plan very well. We walk out of here with a good crowd and a team that is wanting so badly to get a result, like we are."
In four matches since taking charge, Kreis has guided Real Salt Lake to two ties and two losses. He emphasized the need to shore a defense that has allowed 14 goals in eight MLS matches.
"We didn't get the three points that we wanted, but to come to Chicago Fire's stadium and play here and get a point, that's always a good thing," Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.
The tradeoff in playing to keep Chicago (3-4-2, 11 pts.) from scoring is that Real Salt Lake Real Salt Lake (0-3-5, 5 pts.) sacrificed width, and its own offense created only sporadic chances. At the same time, the visitors gained their fifth tie in eight matches.
"I think you've got to put the horse before the cart sometimes," Kreis said. "For us, that was about getting the defense right, about getting our compact shape right and defending well. We'll build from it."
Chris Lancos played a very defensive holding midfield role, and the general stance of the midfield was to attempt to soak up pressure.
Chicago dominated possession time but failed to gain clear scoring chances for most of the match. But in the final 15 minutes of the second half and especially in the four minutes of added time to the match, the Fire pushed to end their four-match losing streak.
At that time, Rimando had to step forward. He made a point-blank save from a Chad Barrett shot with 60 seconds to play and contributed seven total saves to the team's defensive effort.
"I think we all have it in our heads that we want to try to get three points," Rimando said. "That left some gaps at the back. It was good that I was able to come up with some saves."
Rimando also made a key save in the late-going on a header from Jerson Monteiro.
"Obviously when you play away against somebody and you get into the dying stretches, you know you're going to have to do some defending," Kreis said. "I think the guys did a good job of that and (Rimando) made some very good saves as well. He needs that for his confidence."
Alecko Eskandarikan made his first start for Real Salt Lake since Tuesday's trade with Toronto FC. Eskandarian had an early shot saved and linked with the team's other front-running players.
"It was pretty hot out there, and playing on the road isn't the ideal setting for us," Eskandarian said. "But we came out and worked our butts off and we got a point out of it. "
Although his forward mates are different, Eskandarian said he felt comfortable on the field.Comment on this story
"Soccer's soccer," Eskandarian said. "No matter where you go, you're going to try to play the same way and get good combinations. It'll take some time to try to get used to everyone's tendencies. But I think, for a first game, it was pretty good."
Kreis, whose 108 MLS career goals show he knows a thing or two about goal-scoring, said he was impressed with Eskandarian's overall game contribution.
"There will be people who will look at the stat sheet and see he didn't score," Kreis said. "He did so many other things for me. He was chasing down lost causes and getting back to help defend."