Another solid defensive performance, punctuated by three superb Jaime Penedo saves, enabled the LA Galaxy to claim a point Wednesday night at Real Salt Lake, and they were most pleased even if they missed a golden chance for victory in stoppage time.
LA again showed little offensively in the 0-0 draw but held an energetic RSL attack scoreless for the fourth time in the past five games, while extending their unbeaten streak to five games despite a mess of trouble with their lineup. On top of that, the conditions at Rio Tinto Stadium delayed the kickoff 62 minutes following a lightning strike during the national anthem.
“We should get the point and get out of town,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said on Time Warner Cable SportsNet's postgame telecast. “It was not a night where [we received] great quality out of our team. That wasn't the case. We fought real hard, and we positioned ourselves to win the game at the end. ...
“On the night, we certainly didn't play real well, but we played real hard. These are important points, and we'll take it.”
The Galaxy battled the elements – altitude, heavy winds and driving rain – and a rash of injuries that worsened before kickoff.
The Galaxy already were missing six players, including captain Robbie Keane, winger/forward Jose Villarreal, veteran left back Todd Dunivant and 100-goal forward Edson Buddle, and then first-choice left back Robbie Rogers didn't dress because of an undisclosed knock suffered in the draw last weekend with Colorado.
The Galaxy created just one chance in the first half and another in the second half, both headers off crosses, before Jamison Olave pulled down Omar Gonzalez in the RSL box to give them an opportunity to win from the spot. Juninho, who came on in the 72nd minute, fired toward the right post, but Nick Rimando dived to push the shot away.
LA were disappointed not to claim all three points, and they're still searching for some offensive coherence, but the positives outweighed the negatives.
“All things considered, this is a good result for us,” Gordon told media in Sandy, Utah. “This is going on a string of games we're playing with multiple different people in multiple positions – we obviously are missing some key players – and we continue to get results. And sometimes you need to grind out these ugly games.
“It's not an easy place to play, so to give ourselves a chance to win at the end, I think we'll take that.”
The attacking flow was again absent for the most part, although LA found their legs in the second half and might have gone ahead had Rimando not tipped a Gordon header over the crossbar nor disrupted a Stefan Ishizaki feed into the goalmouth for Gyasi Zardes.
But they were pleased with their effort, which has been hit and miss early this season.
“We definitely fought for one another,” said DeLaGarza. “It's just our attack wasn't sharp enough, our passing and our movement. We've got to make better passing and finish our chances when they come.”
Penedo, in his best form since joining the Galaxy two summers ago, was key, with leaping saves on Luke Mulholland in the 53rd minute and Alvaro Saborio in the 70th and 76th minutes. He had plenty of support from his backline, especially center backs Gonzalez and Leonardo.
“I thought everyone kept a good line,” Gonzalez said. “Salt Lake was trying to beat our line and failed countless times. We played strong. They have two big guys up top who are very physical, and I think we matched them up well. They had possession in the midfield, but they didn't really have that many good solid chances. And the ones that they did have were deflections and Jaime came up big on those.
“On the night, I think if we would've made the PK, we would've deserved to win.”