Defense department: RSL posts a shutout in a Fourth of July draw with Sounders

Published: Thursday, July 5 2012 12:18 a.m. MDT

Fabian Espindola of Real Salt Lake argues a call with the line judge against the Seattle Sounders during their MLS matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Wednesday, July 4, 2012. The game ended in a tie, 0-0.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

SANDY — There were two ways of looking at Real Salt Lake's 0-0 draw with Seattle in front of a sellout crowd of 20,363 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.

You can bet coach Jason Kreis was looking at it from a glass half-full perspective.

On the heels of three straight losses — including two at home — Real Salt Lake avoided the defensive mistakes that's plagued it lately to earn a shutout at home for the first time since April 7. Doing it with defenders Kenny Mansally and Kwame Watson-Siriboe making their RSL debut made the tie all the more satisfying.

"The message tonight was the buck stops here and now. We didn't lose the game, so I'll say the glass is half full," said Kreis.

As important as the point in the standings might be in the long run, RSL's winless streak stretched to four straight after it failed to beat an opponent that hadn't won a game since early May.

RSL had plenty of chances to pick up the full three points, dominating the match throughout. Despite the 65-35 percent edge in possession and an 11-8 edge in shots, it couldn't sneak anything past Seattle keeper Bryan Meredith.

One exceptions was in the 52nd minute when Alavaro Saborio tapped in a cross deep from Chris Wingert, but the goal was waved off when Saborio was ruled offside on the play.

Kreis said that on a different night, RSL probably finishes 1 or 2 chances, but right now his players are a bit anxious in front of goal.

"There's always going to be a little extra anxiousness right now because our last home game I think we had 25 clear-cut scoring chances and we didn't take any of them. We left it up to Javier (Morales) to score on a free kick," said Kreis. "I can tell you for sure that never works. We just need to get the guys to calm down and say it's going to come."

The defining moment never came though, and just like against San Jose in its previous home game RSL was fortunate not to give up a late-winner as Seattle's Cordell Cato was inches away from burying a driven cross in the 86th minute.

Most of Seattle's scoring opportunities came later in the match with RSL pushing forward for the winner.

RSL finished the game with a scintillating 87 percent passing accuracy, but Will Johnson said it's a bit deceiving. He said a lot of that possession came by simply knocking it around the midfield. He would've liked to see more penetrating passes to try and spring Fabian Espindola and Saborio up front.

"Defensively, we can be happy, we just need to be a little bit sharper, especially in the final third and we'll be OK. It's a good building block," said Johnson.

Real Salt Lake still sits comfortably in second place in the Western Conference standings with the draw, four points clear of third-place Vancouver and six points clear of Seattle.

The result, however, was yet another frustrating Independence Day performance for RSL.

MLS has been very kind to Real Salt Lake through the years allowing it to host matches on and around the Fourth of July every year. The fireworks show afterward is usually the only things fans have to be excited about.

RSL's record in those eight matches on either July 2, 3 and 4 now stands at 1-1-6 — and it's 0-1-4 on July 4.

Kreis tweaked his starting lineup for Wednesday's match against struggling Seattle, awarding newcomers Mansally and Watson-Siriboe their first start. Both played well in helping Real Salt Lake earn its first home shutout in quite a while.

Watson-Siriboe started in place Jamison Olave who was unavailable for the third straight game with a calf strain. Mansally started in place of Tony Beltran who picked up a slight groin injury in last Saturday's loss at Columbus.

Real Salt Lake has another quick turnaround as it hosts the Portland Timbers this Saturday.

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