KANSAS CITY, Kan. – All Sporting Kansas City could do was shrug, give credit to Jeff Attinella and move on to their bye week.
Sporting controlled the run of play – even after Uri Rosell's 83rd-minute red card for a foul on Devon Sandoval – and unleashed shot after shot at Real Salt Lake's backup goalkeeper. And time and again, he turned them aside: eight saves in all in Saturday night's scoreless draw at Sporting Park.
“This was a crazy game to be in the backline and watching all the stuff that was going on in front of me,” Sporting captain and central defender Matt Besler told reporters after the match. “Honestly, there were five times when I started running up to celebrate with the guys. I took three or four steps, and it ended up not going in, and I had to stop. That usually doesn't happen.”
It did this time, though, and Sporting had to settle for a single point despite a 20-5 shot advantage on the night.
“Sometimes the game isn't fair,” manager Peter Vermes said during his postgame news conference. “We had a tremendous performance tonight. Prior to the red card, the possession was 62 for us and 38 percent for them. As far as the gameplan, the way the guys executed was tremendous. The only thing we were missing was the goal. We created great opportunities.”
The two best chances came in the 11th minute, when Dom Dwyer took a ball over the top and got free for a 1-v-1 only to be turned away at close range, and in the 34th, when Attinella made a dive to his right to knock away Benny Feilhaber's strike from distance.
“When I hit it, I thought it was going in,” Feilhaber said. “But he got to the spot and made a good save. That's all there is to it.”
Dwyer, who hit the post from a narrow angle in the 63rd minute after getting around Attinella, said he wasn't surprised by the RSL netminder's performance in relief of the injured Nick Rimando. The two are good friends and both played for the University of South Florida, although not at the same time.
“Obviously, I'm a bit mad at him at the moment,” Dwyer said with a laugh. “But no, he played well tonight. I'm glad he got his chance. He deserves it. Credit to him and credit to Salt Lake. They played well today. I was pleased with the way we played, but we were just a bit unlucky tonight.”
On the plus side, Sporting were able to keep Real from stealing all three points after Rosell's ejection.
“Not a lot changed,” goalkeeper Eric Kronberg said. “I was surprised that they didn't put more numbers forward. But we held our shape and held on to the ball when we could and played smart with the red card. So hats off to the defense in front of me.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.