SANDY, Utah — Both Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo had opportunities to snatch three points, but they were unable to finish their chances as they played to a 0-0 score on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The result takes RSL’s league home unbeaten streak to 29 games. For Houston, it puts an end to a two-game losing streak.
The match was the first for RSL since losing midfielder Javier Morales to a broken ankle after a tackle in last week’s win over Chivas USA. Despite expectations that head coach Jason Kreis would replace Morales with Andy Williams, young playmaker Collen Warner lined up in the attacking midfield position.
Lacking Morales’ ability to maintain possession, RSL were vulnerable to Houston’s quick power game. The Dynamo’s Brad Davis whipped in several dangerous balls in the first half, but big strikers Will Bruin and Cam Weaver were unable to connect.
RSL were also without striker Fabián Espíndola, so Arturo Alvarez got the starting nod. In the 42nd minute, he got involved in the action, sending in a cross for forward Álvaro Saborío. However, the Costa Rican’s header sailed wide of the goal.
What the first half lacked in chances, the second half made up for straight away.
In the 48th minute, Houston’s left midfielder Colin Clark struck a low shot to the near post, but RSL keeper Nick Rimando easily smothered the chance.
A minute later, Saborío put in a cross that midfielder Ned Grabavoy managed to get a foot on, but his touch went just wide of the net.
As the second half wore on, Houston began committing more numbers forward, and it just about paid off.
Rimando was forced into a pair of saves from Bruin, first from a hard shot from distance in the 60th minute and a few minutes later after the Houston rookie ran into open space behind the defense. The RSL keeper knocked down the initial shot and jumped on the loose ball before anyone could tuck it into the net.
In the 86th minute, Weaver nearly stole three points for the Dynamo. As the visitors broke in on a three-on-one, with Weaver at the head of the attack, RSL defender Nat Borchers made a precise saving tackle at the top of the area, toeing the ball away.
Then, in stoppage time, Williams, who came on in the 60th minute for Warner, had a great chance to give the home team the win. A quick bit of interplay set the Jamaican veteran into the Houston area. He got his shot off under a sliding defender, but it skidded just wide of the right post.
In all, an even, end-to-end match finished justifiably scoreless.
RSL fall to third place in the West but with several games in hand on the two teams ahead of them, the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas. They travel to Dallas next weekend. The Dynamo, sitting in fifth in the East, welcome the East-leading New York Red Bulls next Saturday.