When Real Salt Lake missed an opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a loss at Colorado earlier this year, coach Jason Kreis reluctantly admitted his team wasn't ready for the lofty status and didn't deserve it.
Apparently RSL isn't ready for second place, either.
On a night when a win over expansion side San Jose would've propelled RSL toward the top of the table, it failed to produce a goal and settled for a 0-0 draw against an opponent that played the final 46 minutes with 10 men.
"It's another night where I think we've done enough to create the quantity of chances that we're wanting to create. We'll have to feel disappointed the final touch wasn't there to get us all three points," Kreis said.
Instead of vaulting past Colorado, FC Dallas and Houston into sole possession of second place, RSL's second scoreless draw in its past three matches added just one point to its season haul and it's now tied for third with FC Dallas with 16 points.
"I do think it's a little early to look at the standings," Kreis said. "We started off the season saying we weren't going to be talking about points and a number of a results, and I prefer we stick as a franchise to that focus and that mindset that we went into the season with.
"We just look at it and say we're playing good soccer. Obviously there's some points we would've liked to pick up along the way, but we believe if we continue to play good soccer those points will bounce back our way."
Settling for the draw against San Jose, a team it beat 3-1 at Rice-Eccles Stadium on May 31, was definitely a missed opportunity.
RSL dominated possession from the opening whistle and outshot the Earthquakes 24-7. Amazingly, only four of those 24 shots were put on frame, and many were from ambitious distances outside the box.
Kreis went so far as to call it an unacceptable outcome playing with a man advantage for the entire second half.
"We're a good enough team and playing against a team that's a man down; we should score two goals," he said.
The game-changing moment came late in the first half when San Jose defender Jason Hernandez was slapped with his second yellow card of the match and subsequently ejected on a reckless challenge directed at Robbie Findley.
From that point on, back-to-back wins for Real Salt Lake seemed inevitable. It might've been had Kreis' team not played so passively following the red card.
"I think our players need to have a little more aggressive mentality when you're playing against a team a man down," Kreis said. "You have to know they're going to sit in and bunker, and in order to move those players around you have to dribble at them and be aggressive and cause defenders to make decisions on who to play."
Instead, most of RSL's 15 second-half shots were taken from outside the box.
Real Salt Lake appeared to score the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute, but after a short delay the referee deemed that Kyle Beckerman was offsides when he volleyed in Robbie Findley's header off a corner kick.
A minute later, Javier Morales banged a one-timed shot off the post, one of 10 shots RSL uncorked in the final 17 minutes.
As disappointing as the outcome was, Beckerman said there's a lot of positives following a third straight shutout and unbeaten streak that stretched to four straight with last Saturday's draw.
"We're pretty happy, we're not giving up many goals and we're not losing, so that's a good sign for us to keep pushing forward," Beckerman said.RSL returns to action at home this Saturday against the New England Revolution, who own the best record in MLS.
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