SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake like to refer to Rio Tinto Stadium as their “fortress." Now with an MLS-record 23-game home unbeaten streak to their name after Saturday's 1-0 win vs. Chicago, RSL’s assessment of their home field certainly seems fitting.
“It’s really cool,” Kreis said after the match, referring to his club achieving the streak. “We put a lot of emphasis on it. We haven’t shied away from how important it is to us as a club. Now we need to, at least for a few minutes, celebrate it.”
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The last loss for RSL came on May 16, 2009, when they were shut out 2-0 by visiting Kansas City. It's Real Salt Lake doing the shutting out of late, with Nick Rimando registering the team's 13th clean sheet of the season against Chicago without facing a single shot on goal.
“That’s my best game – if I don’t have to touch the ball, and we stay organized," the veteran 'keeper said. "We’ve had multiple of those games this year, where our defenders in front of us do so much work and I get the credit.”
Real Salt Lake are now up to 532 consecutive shutout minutes, second this season only to the 567-minute stretch also set by RSL earlier in the year.
Despite the record-setting performance, Kreis was not completely happy with his team's showing, which he viewed as largely lackluster.
“I’m satisfied with the shutout, and I’m real satisfied with the result,” Kreis said. "The energy level was extremely low today and I think there are a lot of reasons why, that I understand, and can agree with, and accept. But I want better.”
“It just felt like our energy level was bad from the start," said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "It wasn’t our best day, for sure.”
Grabavoy, who Kreis asked to fill in the No. 10 role for the suspended Javier Morales, was a key figure on the turning point of the game that led to the only goal of the match. His run into the box was interrupted by a tug from Chicago defender Wilman Conde, who was already on a yellow card. The double-whammy of an ejection and a penalty kick left its mark on the match.
“I was going to hit it first time, but I just felt him tug me down," said Grabavoy of the challenge he received in the box. “I didn’t try to go down, I was forced to go down. I was pretty surprised that he [Conde] chose to take me down, because I didn’t think I had a good angle.”
The foul on Grabavoy led to the penaly kick converted by Alvaro Saborio, which proved the only goal the defending champions needed on the record-setting night.