Real Salt Lake and defending Eastern Conference champions Toronto FC played to a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday afternoon to open their 2017 MLS seasons. Both teams had chances throughout the game, but neither could muster the requisite skill needed in the final third.
Each team squandered golden opportunities to grab the three points. In the 30th minute, RSL keeper Nick Rimando made amends for tripping up Toronto star Sebastian Giovinco in the box when he got low to his right to deny the Italian his first tally of the season with a crucial penalty save.
Deep into the second half, the hosts had their own chance to grab the win in the 80th minute, but Joao Plata saw his half-volley sky harmlessly over the bar from eight years out after midfielder Kyle Beckerman superbly put him in on goal with a chipped pass over the top of the Toronto defense.
- THE RECORD KEEPS GROWING: With his save of Giovinco's PK in the first half, Rimando extended his MLS-best record of career penalty kick saves – to 29. He may have brought down Giovinco to give up the spot kick, but made up for it when he got down to his right and held Giovinco's effort.
- IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT? Toronto started the same XI to start 2017 as they did in the 2016 MLS Cup final. On the bright side, Greg Vanney's 3-5-2 formation isn't giving up goals. Unfortunately, the results weren't better on the offensive end either, as they failed to find the back of the net again. On the bright side, they did hand a debut to Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez, who should provide a needed spark linking the Reds' midfield to attack.
- RUSNAK LOOKIN' GOOD: There may not have been any goals in the game, but we saw flashes of what Slovakian Designated Player Albert Rusnak has to offer. The 22 year-old playmaker showed some quick feet and a desire to push RSL forward throughout, even if he was given a rude welcome to MLS when Michael Bradley bodied him off the ball early on. Look for his relationship with Plata and Yura Movsisyan to continue to develop and eventually flourish.
5 - @RealSaltLake's Albert Rusnak had five key passes in the team's draw. Toronto FC as a team combined for six. Introduction.— OptaJack (@OptaJack) March 4, 2017
- RSL: Saturday, March 11 – at Chicago (2 pm ET | MLS LIVE)
- TOR: Saturday, March 11 – at Philadelphia (4:30 pm ET | TSN4 in Canada, MLS LIVE)