RSL admit they must be sharper in final third to break funk

SANDY, Utah — It's no secret that Real Salt Lake like to keep possession, knock the ball around looking for weakness in an opponent's shape and then take advantage.

So that RSL controlled the ball 64.8 percent of the time and strung together 485 passes — nearly twice as many as Seattle — in their Wednesday night 0-0 draw against the Sounders was hardly a suprise.

But the fact that they're now winless in four matches and were kept off the scoreboard despite dominating the run of play against their Western Conference foes is a problem the team hopes to solve quickly.

"We kept the ball OK," said midfielder Will Johnson, "we just didn't play enough penetrating passes between the lines to get in behind their lines. That was the frustrating part.

Full Highlights: RSL 0, SEA 0

"We did a lot of getting it side to side and moving it, but as far as dangerous forward [progress], penetrating passes and quick turns to slip Fabián [Espíndola] and Sabo [Álvaro Saborío] and Javi [Morales], that part of things has to get a little bit better."

RSL's best chance of the night came seven minutes into the second half, when Saborío poked home a cross from Espíndola. Unfortunately for the Costa Rican hitman and his teammates, his goal was ruled offsides.

Team captain Kyle Beckerman, who returned to RSL's lineup after serving a suspension echoed Johnson's feelings.

"I think that is the name of the game right there," Beckerman said of making that final pass. "We are always trying to get sharper in the final third. If we could finish maybe half of our chances, we would be blowing out teams.

"The good news is we're playing good soccer and there aren't a ton of teams that can say that."

For all the disappointment RSL feels for letting three points slip away, head coach Jason Kreis opted to go with a glass half-full outlook.

"We are looking at the positives in this game," he said. "That was our first shutout in a long time, and we're, I think, controlling the rhythm and the game and being the aggressors like we need to be at home.

"I'd like to see it to continue to get better," Kreis added. "I still think there are gaps to play through in the midfield, and if we continue to keep it a real positive spirit, a positive mentality about the way we've been playing, then I'll think we'll be able to play through teams a bit more than we even did tonight."