Real Salt Lake won its fifth consecutive Rocky Mountain Cup Friday with a 0-0 draw at Colorado.
“The intention was to get a shutout and get a point and I think we did a pretty good job at that,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. “At the end they threw everything at us and some big boys up top got some chances. But we battled and we fought and kept the shutout which is good.”
The draw is a good step after four consecutive losses and gets Salt Lake moving in the right direction going into the playoffs. Salt Lake will have one more regular season match – the Portland Timbers’ first trip to Rio Tinto Stadium next Saturday – before beginning the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“We’ve got so many things going wrong I think it’s important to try to focus on one thing and build from that,” coach Jason Kreis said. “For me that was this week, competing as a team, showing some pride and getting back to all the defensive details that we built this team upon.
“So tonight to see them walk out of here with a nil-nil draw, shutout, that means something to us and we’ll look to build on it in the next week.”
The result is critical for final playoff positioning. It puts Salt Lake three points ahead of Dallas for third place in the West. Salt Lake can clinch the third spot with a win next week against Portland, a loss by Dallas in either of its two remaining matches or a combination of draws between the two sides.
Real Salt Lake started off playing well. With the exception of a 4th minute cross that Colorado should have put on frame, the side played strong defense and even created attacking opportunities.
Still, Salt Lake’s defense continued to commit fouls deep in their own area and create set pieces for Colorado.
Colorado controlled much of the first half’s possession, 61% according to MLSsoccer.com, but they were unable to capitalize. The best opportunity came in the 45th minute when Robbie Russell’s clearance was intercepted and Rimando was forced to swat a hard shot from distance.
The second half was pretty ugly, but there were flashes of brilliance. In the 68th minute, Javier Morales made a great sliding cross that wasn’t quite able to find an attacker at the far post.
As the second half wore on, Salt Lake started to take control of the run of play. At times, it felt like Salt Lake was the home team pushing for a win, while Colorado was hanging back to avoid a loss.
However, things changed in the last ten minutes. Caleb Folan headed a cross on frame in the 82nd minute, forcing Rimando to make a leaping save. The resulting corner kick also nearly went in when it was headed into the crossbar and fired straight into the ground before bouncing out.
Salt Lake held on to get the result and retain the Rocky Mountain Cup for the fifth consecutive season.
Man of the Match
Fabian Espindola played with his usual heart. He is the man of the match.
Real Salt Lake was without captain Kyle Beckerman due to suspension:
- FORWARD: Saborio, Espindola
- MIDFIELD: Y. Alvarez, Gil, Morales, Williams (93′ Alexandre for Gil)
- DEFENSE: Wingert, Olave, Borchers, Russell
- KEEPER: Rimando
Category: Game Review