RSL Roundup: Brief spell on top, another shutout streak
Lehi, Utah — Real Salt Lake’s draw at Seattle last week was more than a welcome result. The fact that they were missing several starters Nick Rimando (Achilles injury), Jamison Olave (yellow card accumulation) and Fabian Espindola (hamstring injury) made the point earned one of MLS’ other hot teams worth even more than what it showed in the standings.
Coach Jason Kreis was pleased with the . "I'm thrilled for more reasons than just the result,” he said. “The guys put in great effort tonight and the attention to detail was amazing. The commitment level was just second to none."
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 0, RSL 0
Now, after a couple of weeks’ reprieve, RSL return to the familiar two-games-per-week routine. They square off against Toronto for CONCACAF Champions League action at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday before attempting to set a new league home unbeaten record against Chicago on Saturday.
Brief Moment at the Top
While it wasn’t quite what they had hoped for, RSL did enjoy a brief moment at the top. Going into last week’s action it was theoretically possible with a win at Seattle and a draw in the Galaxy/Crew match, they could take sole possession of first place in the league’s Supporters' Shield race. As it turned out, the draw put them in the lead on goal differential for a few days until the Galaxy regained the pole position with their win over Columbus on Saturday.
The announcement that the team had inked general manager Garth Lagerwey to a four-year contract extension further signals that the reigning champs are doing all they can to keep the group together. Lagerwey joins Kreis and players Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Olave, and Espindola as those locked up for multiple years going forward.
The team has also been trying to reach an agreement with forward Robbie Findley, and they are expected to make a move to secure Alavio Saborio’s services beyond this season when his loan agreement expires.
The signing of Brazilian forward Paulo Araujo Jr. on loan from Miami FC for the rest of the season indicates the team’s need of an insurance policy, especially given the recent injury to Espíndola.
However, Paulo Jr., who was described by Kreis as “probably the best trialist that we’ve ever had at Real Salt Lake,” may also be an insurance policy should RSL lose either Findley or Saborío—or both—in the offseason.
Shutout Streak … Again
For the second time this season, RSL are riding a shutout streak. The clean sheet in Seattle, RSL’s 12th of the season, extended the current streak to 442 minutes, third longest in MLS this season, behind their own 567 minute streak and LA’s 463-minute streak earlier this season. The most recent shutout was also the first for reserve keeper Kyle Reynish—who made just his second appearance—in his career.
Kreis was thrilled with the performance of debutant Chris Schuler. "Just amazing,” the coach said. “We have been really patient with Chris and have taken our time with him. He stepped into arguably one of the most difficult places in the entire league and just didn't put a foot wrong. He has so much personality and competitive fire."
Sounders defender Jeff Parke who committed foul on the first-half penalty that Findley then missed, felt his side was fortunate to get a draw against a team the quality of RSL.
"They are a good team,” the center back said. “I think they are the best team that I have played against this year, just on movement and just players-wise they know where each other is supposed to be. They are always playing balls into the forwards feet and guys playing off and they are always moving. They are a tough team."