Real Salt Lake: RSL seems to have lost its home-field advantage at Rio Tinto Stadium
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SANDY — Life at Rio Tinto Stadium just isn't what it used to be. What was once an impenetrable fortress, the Real Salt Lake pitch hasn't quite been the place that opposing teams fear these days.
The Claret-and-Cobalt were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw Tuesday evening — definitely not the result they wanted or needed.
"Really, really proud of the men out there. At halftime, I told them their performance was spectacular," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "We did all the things that we need to do to win these big games, except for that final touch. I really felt like it would come tonight, and I'm a little bit shocked that it didn't."
RSL was without goal-scoring leader Alvaro Saborio on Tuesday night, which was the result of yellow-card accumulation in the earlier rounds of the group stage. Saborio is second in MLS with 17 goals scored, and is nine goals off the pace of San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski, who has tallied 26 goals in MLS action.
Kreis was forced to call upon Kenny Mansally in the 62nd minute when defender Chris Schuler was sidelined with a quadriceps injury. The 25-year-old Schuler will undergo X-rays this morning to confirm the extent of the injury.
Schuler had previously been sidelined for nearly four months this season with a foot injury.
"I'm really concerned with that situation, because to not have Schuler and (Jamison) Olave at this time would not be good for us," said Kreis.
Will Johnson was also sidelined with a injury Tuesday night after taking a knee in the back in the final 20 minutes. Rookie Sebastian Velasquez would be the third and final substitute for coach Kreis.
Luis Gil, RSL's 19-year-old standout, was at his best for the home team, including a strike on goal in the fourth minute of play to get the home crowd roaring. Gil finished the game with four shots before taking a seat in the 68th minute in favor of Johnny Steele.
"It's very disappointing, but I feel like we did some positive things. Obviously, we just couldn't find the back of the net," said Gil. "That's soccer. You do everything right, but at the end of the day it's what the score is."
For an RSL team that had compiled a 34-game unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto, Tuesday's disappointing tie is one to forget and move on, with the MLS playoffs just around the corner.
"We need to move forward very quickly, because we have a pretty big tournament of our own in front of us."
A sellout crowd of 20,436 packed Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday night. It was the fifth consecutive sellout and the 10th of the 2012 season.
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