Salt Lake is still in an attacking funk after drawing 0-0 with a Houston Dynamo team with its own issues.SANDY, Utah -- Real Salt Lake commenced life without Javier Morales with some bright moments, but its general offensive woes continued as it played the Houston Dynamo to a scoreless draw in front of 16,301 at Rio Tinto Stadium. There were more fouls than shots in what has become a chippy rivalry.
Both teams made dangerous attacks in the early minutes of the match. The goalkeepers were both forced to punch the ball clear in the first seven minutes, Tally Hall knocking away a dangerous Collen Warner corner for Houston and Nick Rimando clearing a good cross from Brad Davis. But neither team could even generate a shot until Alvaro Saborio’s half chance was deflected out in the 20th minute.
The next good opportunity of the half didn’t come until Houston had some positive moments in the 28th minute. Will Bruin earned himself a free header from the penalty spot at that time, but he pushed it a few feet wide of the right post.
The question about whether RSL could maintain possession without injured playmaker Javier Morales was answered in the first half. Salt Lake enjoyed 65 percent possession in the opening 45 minutes behind the leadership of Warner, but continued to struggle to create dangerous chances in the final third.
One of Real’s better moments came in the 42nd minute when Ned Grabavoy hit a well struck ball over the defense to Arturo Alvarez streaking up the right flank. Alvarez sent a cross far post to Saborio. The Costa Rican tried to push a header back across the goal, but he missed it just wide.
As with most RSL-Dynamo matches, this one was physical and well defended as the teams combined for 17 fouls and only six shots in the first half.
The Dynamo got off to a bright start in the second half, and had their best chance of the match up to that point in the 48th minute. Brad Davis was double-teamed in the right corner but managed to beat both his marks and dribble into the box. He fired a low, hard shot at the near post, but all he could hit was the side netting.
Houston’s near miss seemed to awaken Salt Lake, and it was unlucky to get on the board just a minute later. Saborio got free on the left wing and crossed a good ball to Grabavoy for a volley, but he drilled it just wide of the far post. RSL kept up the pressure, leading to a great strike from distance by Chris Wingert in the 50th minute, his shot missing by about as much as Grabavoy’s did moments earlier.
Houston did not back down in spite of Real’s suddenly inspired play, and it got another good look at goal as Weaver got the best of Nat Borchers and found himself one-on-one with Rimando. But Weaver failed to pick out the corner well, leaving Rimando a relatively easy save and preserving the scoreless draw.
But Salt Lake continued to have the better of the play through the rest of the match. Unfortunately for RSL, once it got into the final third, everything seemed to be a step off. Players were a tad offside, runs were a split second off, crosses left wanting by inches, as the home side was unable to break the scoreless draw.
Houston nearly stole full points in the 86th minute when a bad turnover in midfield put Houston in an odd-man rush with RSL’s back line. Weaver had the ball and control of the center of the pitch, and elected to take on the defense, but Borchers made a game saving breakup to end the danger. Minutes later, Real again let Houston get numbers on it, this time Koke taking the shot, but Rimando made a diving save.
Salt Lake had three great chances as thanks to Saborio and Andy Williams, but missed by inches every time and the scoreless draw was sealed.
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