BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — There was a big zero drawn on the board in Real Salt Lake's locker room after Wednesday night's game at Chicago. But that was a good thing.
RSL and Chicago battled to a 0-0 draw at Toyota Park, the fourth time in the last six regular-season meetings at the stadium that the teams ended the contest scoreless. But when that happens on the road, RSL coach Jason Kreis is a happy camper.
"We're pleased, the guys worked incredibly hard, it's been awhile since we've had a shutout," Kreis said. "Anytime we're on the road we feel like it starts with our defensive effort. It starts with trying to keep a shutout and we go from there."
RSL's defense had to step up, because Chicago (3-2-3) kept the pressure on in the visitor's end of the field in the first half. The Fire had six shot attempts on goal in the first 45 minutes and the only shot on goal, by Marco Pappa.
The scariest shot came on a header by Fire forward Dominic Oduro, who put it off the crossbar above backup RSL goalkeeper Kyle Reynish in the third minute.
"As a goalie, sometimes you need a little help from your posts and stuff, we had a little bit of a breakdown to let him get that open on it," said Reynish, who was in for veteran Nick Rimando, who was out with a shoulder injury. "Outside of that, I thought the defense did a pretty good job of keeping them off of me the rest of the time."
RSL (7-3-2, 23 points) had its best scoring opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half. Forward Paulo Junior had a shot that Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had to make a diving stop on. And Alvaro Saborio launched another shot over the net.
RSL finished with 2 shots on goal, but their offensive attack was lacking overall.
"We don't feel like the onus is on us when we're away to set the tempo, it should be on the home team," Kreis said. "Chicago is a very dangerous team, they have some very attacking-minded players. On a different night, I think Paulo maybe buries one of those and we walk away with three points."
Reynish was pleased with getting a chance to play.
"It's always exciting to get some minutes, it's tough being behind Nicky but whenever I can come in and help and especially get the team a point or three points or whatever we can do, it's always a good feeling,"?Reynish said. "It's a long season, so all those points add up at the end of the year."
Chicago area defender Chris Schuler was happy with RSL's defense.
"It's good to get out of here with a zero," Schuler said. "It's my job more or less. I thought they had one clear-cut chance, but besides that I thought we were pretty solid. I thought our defense played pretty well, we were pretty compact the whole game. We were a tough block to break down today."
Notes: RSL forward Fabian Espindola didn't make the trip to Chicago. He was at home with his new baby boy, Jayko. "I wanted to give him few days at home with his new baby and new mother," Kreis said. … "RSL assistant coach C.J. Brown, who played as a defender for the Chicago Fire for 13 years from 1998 to 2010, was inducted into Chicago's "Ring of Fire" in a halftime ceremony. Brown was presented with a ring and a blazer, and a banner with his jersey number was unveiled and raised to the wall on the East side of the stadium. … The win put RSL in first place in the Western Conference with 23 points, one point ahead of idle San Jose.
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