[MLS] For the second night in a row, a critical intraconference MLS match failed to produce a goal. Real Salt Lake returned to the site of its triumph last November in MLS Cup and again couldn’t be beaten, yet this time failed to convert a penalty kick in a 0-0 tie with Seattle at Qwest Field. Kasey Keller turned away Robbie Findley's feeble shot after he'd been tripped in the box by Sounders' defender Jeff Parke.
Keller held his spot in the middle of the goal line and easily batted away Findley’s attempt.
Chicago and Toronto battled to a 0-0 tie Wednesday night as they tried to improve their playoff chances.
A victory in Seattle Thursday would have pushed Real Salt Lake ahead of Los Angeles atop the Western Conference and ahead of both the Galaxy and Columbus in the overall standings; instead all three teams have 44 points. Los Angeles and Columbus are both 13-5-5, the defending champ is 12-4-8.
RSL moved alongside Columbus and Los Angeles atop the overall standings, and Seattle (9-9-6, 33 points) moved into seventh place. RSL defeated Los Angeles on penalty kicks last year after a 1-1 tie to win its first league championship.
Considering that RSL took the field without starters Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and Nick Rimando, it certainly deserved a point through its strong defensive effort and could have snatched all three with Findley’s penalty kick. Chris Schuler stepped into Olave’s spot and handled central defensive duties well; backup keeper Kyle Reynish played a safe, solid game as his teammates blunted nearly all of Seattle’s efforts to get a clean shot.
For the Sounders, right back James Riley and striker Blaise Nkufo missed the match because of injuries. Oswaldo Alonso drove the Sounders forward from his midfield spot and cracked a long shot narrowly over the crossbar. Fredy Montero, paired up front with Nate Jaqua, opened up the RSL defense on a few occasions but Schuler and central partner Nat Borchers defended resolutely. RSL outside back Tony Beltran minimized the runs of Steve Zakuani down Seattle’s left flank.
A few minutes after Keller’s save in the 32nd minute, Alvaro Fernandez chased down a loose ball and stumbled when Javier Morales bumped him from behind. Sounders’ fans howled for a penalty but Ward didn’t blow the whistle.
Seattle plays Tuesday in San Jose, Costa Rica against Deportivo Saprissa in the Concacaf Champions’ League, and resumes league play next Saturday in Columbus. RSL hosts Toronto FC in the CCL on Wednesday and stays at home to play Chicago three days later.
Sept. 9 in Seattle
Seattle 0, Real Salt Lake 0.
Seattle – Keller; Scott, Ianni, Parke, L. Gonzalez, Fernandez (Nyassi, 74), Sturgis (Seamon, 85), Alonso, Zakuani, Montero, Jaqua (Fucito, 70).
Real Salt Lake – Reynish; Beltran, Borchers, Schuler, Wingert, N. Gonzalez (Johnson, 65), Beckerman, Morales, Williams, Findley (Campos, 89), Saborio.
Referee: P. Ward.