[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Injuries that have sidelined two of the best attackers in MLS have affected the game beyond the scope of league competition, as evidenced by the 0-0 tie played by FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake Sunday night. A weather delay of nearly two hours, called in the 83rd minute at Pizza Hut Park, further drained the game of momentum, which suited a cautious, defensive approach by both teams. FC Dallas preserved its unbeaten mark since 2010 league MVP David Ferreira suffered a severe ankle fracture last month and also ran its shutout streak to 393 minutes.
RSL was shut out for the second time in three games since losing Javier Morales to a dislocated left ankle, broken left fibula and ligament damage, but got its first point ever at Pizza Hut Park after seven fruitless visits. It set a league record by conceding just 20 goals in 30 games last year and is on an even stingier pace so far in 2011: two goals allowed in eight matches.
For FC Dallas, winger Marvin Chavez carried much of the burden after announcing earlier in the week he would not accept a callup from the Honduran federation to play in the Concacaf Gold Cup next month.
“I want to give public apologies to everyone in the Honduran community and, moreover, Honduras’ technical body for not attending the tournament,” mlsoccer.com quoted Chavez, mindful of his increased importance to the team in the wake of a serious ankle fracture suffered by Ferreira last month. Chavez has spoken with Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez, who has accepted the decision.
When Chavez went down with an injury in just the second minute against RSL the picture turned even bleaker. He was able to continue, and set up FCD’s best chance of the game with a wiggled dribble down the right flank and centering ball that George John directed on frame and RSL keeper Nick Rimando finger-tipped to safety.
Eric Alexander started in midfield and played 77 minutes, at which point Eric Avila took over. They shared the catalyst role with Chavez and Andrew Jacobson, who played at the point of a five-man midfield. FCD managed 11 goal attempts, only three of which were on target.
RSL thought it had scored in the 21st minute, when struggling striker Alvaro Saborio headed a Will Johnson cross into the net, but the referee’s assistant’s flag was up for offside. Despite holding a 63-37 percent edge in possession, RSL took just four shots. Andy Williams assumed the playmaking duties role for 72 minutes before giving way to Collen Warner.
Saborio, who scored 12 goals last year in his first MLS season and was rewarded with a contract upgraded to Designated Player status, has not scored in five games this year and has been called up for the Gold Cup by Costa Rica. His absence would further weaken an RSL attack that has yet to sort out its scheme without Morales.