SANDY — For the past couple of weeks, Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar has patiently answered questions about his team’s unbeaten streak and the fact that he has yet to lose a regular-season game as a head coach.
It happened again after Saturday night’s 0-0 draw with FC Dallas, which allowed RSL to tie the Major League Soccer record for the longest unbeaten start to a season.
“I don’t think it’s been a distraction at all,’’ Cassar said of the constant questions surrounding the unbeaten streak that currently stands at 12. “This locker room is really strong. (Tonight's game) shows the commitment from my team. It shows that no matter what, we’re going to fight. The mental toughness on our team is fantastic right now. That’s the kind of mentality that builds championships.’’
Cassar didn’t talk about the future, but he knows extending the streak and breaking the MLS record is going to be quite a task. That’s because, not only is Real playing Seattle, the team with the most points in the league (26), but the game is on the Sounders’ field on Saturday.
Oh, and RSL still won’t have three of its top players — Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio — who are all off getting ready for next month’s World Cup matches.
In Saturday night’s game against a Dallas team that hadn’t won a match in more than a month, RSL lacked its usual aggressiveness, especially early, according to Cassar.
“We just started off too passive,’’ he said. “We’re usually extremely aggressive at home, but tonight we didn’t come out with that aggressiveness. We were moving the ball nice, but we didn’t have possession with purpose. It's something we’ll address.’’
Despite getting very few scoring chances all night, at least RSL kept Dallas out of the net. RSL backup goalkeeper Jeff Attinella recorded his second shutout of the season and the team's third. That salvaged a point in the standings, which moved RSL to 24 on the season, two behind Seattle in the Western Conference standings.
“Our goal is always three points, but if we can get a point, we’ll take a point,’’ Cassar said. “If we’re getting results when our soccer isn’t particularly great I think that’s huge for us. I was really proud of them and I thought there were a lot of guys out there who gave it their all.’’
After playing Seattle, RSL will head east to play at Columbus on June 4 before returning home for a game against Portland on June 7. Then, along with the rest of MLS, Real will take a three-week break while the World Cup is played in Brazil.
REAL NOTES: The one negative to come out of Saturday's game was the injury to RSL’s leading scorer, Joao Plata, who hurt himself on a run to the goal in the 34th minute and then left the game for good in the 42nd minute. Cassar said afterward Plata had a “slight hamstring pull” and would be evaluated Monday. ... Plata was replaced in the lineup by Olmes Garcia. ... Robbie Findley saw his first action of the season, replacing Devon Sandoval in the 65th minute. Findley had been out since having knee surgery last December.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company