KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Even without Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake had another spectacular night of keeping the ball out of their own goal.
Putting it in at the other end, even with a man advantage down the stretch, didn't go so well for the Claret-and-Cobalt on Saturday night, as they played to a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in the rematch of last year's MLS Cup Final.
Jeff Attinella, starting in goal for the injured Rimando, had a nine-save blinder of a game. But Real (2-0-3) managed only four shots at the other end and only one of those was on goal, giving Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg an easy time of his second clean sheet for Sporting (2-1-2).
Kansas City, which had 20 shots on the night, had to play a man down after defensive midfielder Uri Rosell was sent off in the 83rd minute for a tackle on Devon Sandoval.
Attinella's best work came in the first half, when his four saves included a sprawling parry of Benny Feilhaber's rocket from distance in the 34th minute. He also stoned Dom Dwyer on a 1-v-1 in the 11th, after the forward slipped behind the back line to take a ball over the top from Matt Besler, and saved Seth Sinovic's short-corner blast over the bar in the 27th.
And the one time he got caught out in the second half, the woodwork and defender Nat Borchers bailed him out.
Dwyer got around Attinella on the right wing in the 63rd minute, but his low shot from a tight angle hit the outside of the near post. The ball rebounded to Sal Zizzo with Attinella in no position to make the save, but Borchers blocked Zizzo's shot in the box.
Sporting's last chance to win it came deep in second-half stoppage time, but Attinella was able to get down to stop Zusi from putting a shot just inside his right post.
Rimando and defender Tony Beltran did not travel after picking up knocks in the United States' 2-2 draw with Mexico on Wednesday, but Salt Lake kept Kyle Beckerman in his usual spot at the back of their diamond midfield. Winger Graham Zusi and center back Matt Besler, both starters for the U.S. on Wednesday, were in Sporting's XI as well.
Right back Chance Myers made his first appearance of the year for Sporting, completing his recovery from a preseason groin strain by going the full 90 on Saturday. Spanish winger Toni Dovale made his MLS debut as a 79th-minute sub for Zizzo.
Real are on the road again next Saturday, taking on Philadelphia at PPL Park, while Sporting are idle until they host Montreal on April 19.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jeff Attinella||No Nick Rimando, no problem. Attinella set the tone for the draw with an impressive first half that included several highlight-reel saves.|
|2||Chris Schuler||Held firm and was aggressive vs. Sporting KC's attackers, especially in the second half when the hosts sent waves of attacks at RSL's back line.|
|3||Graham Zusi||Kicked things into another gear after halftime and was involved in several dangerous scoring chances. He agonizingly missed wide on an early second-half chance.|
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.