RSL displays combative spirit in Toronto tie

Defending champs are not impacted by travel miles or BMO Field

The
odds were stacked against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Of course, like Toronto FC, they had some heavy legs from
their mid-week Champions League group match. But RSL were also coming off the emotional letdown of giving up a two-goal league against Cruz Azul. 

They were facing a TFC side that has proven to be an excellent team at
home this season, with their only loss at BMO Field coming last week at the hands of the
New York Red Bulls. Perhaps more
importantly, Toronto was desperately in need of a win to help its pursuit of a
playoff position. 

In previous years Real Salt Lake may have buckled under those conditions, but this RSL
squad is different from any other in the past. They
fought hard to gain a point in a 0-0 draw and showed a scrappy quality despite the tired legs.

WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

“I
was very, very pleased with the result here, away, on what has been a very
difficult road trip," Kreis said to a local radio station after the match. "It’s been difficult
traveling that many miles.”

Perhaps
the most active player in Toronto was forward Fabian Espindola, who continually put pressure on the
TFC backline. Espindola had what was
arguably the best chance of the night for either side just seconds after the halftime break. He sidestepped goalkeeper Stefan Frei and fired wide of an empty net. Despite the miss, Espindola’s effort on the
night was tremendous.

Real
Salt Lake did not show its customary finesse and possession against the Reds
in this one. That was mostly a factor of the need to match Toronto’s work rate and toughness in the midfield.

“We
usually keep better possession in the midfield, but sometimes it’s gonna happen
on the road," explained right back Tony Beltran. "It’s gonna be a scrappy game where you just have to battle it out
for 90 minutes. But those points are often
even more rewarding.”

Perhaps
the highlight of this workmanlike effort came during several “scrums” inside
their own penalty area. RSL may have struggled to clear the initial ball in the box from Toronto FC, but RSL threw their bodies in front of the play to neutralize these opportunities. 

“I
think collectively as a group it was a great defensive effort,” Beltran said. “They have some very dangerous
players including De Rosario, and because of that we just had to be sharp and
alert, and we did that.”