Real Salt Lake 0-0 LA Galaxy
Thunder and lightning around the Rio Tinto Stadium delayed the start of this one for around an hour. That was it as far as fireworks were concerned as this one was quite the snoozer for 89 minutes.
Real Salt Lake was without their traditional number 10 Javier Morales. As a result, they came out in a 4-1-2-1-2 Diamond formation, hoping to rely less on wide passing. They used Luis Gil in the attacking midfield role, hoping to exploit the middle and get the ball forward to the strike pair of Devon Sandoval and Alvaro Saborio.
Galaxy were without their star man as well, captain Robbie Keane has been out for a while. His absence has been a key factor of their slow start, as their attack has been somewhat lifeless, a trait that would carry on into this one.
The first half was fairly drab. Neither side had anything resembling the final punch needed to score. Real Salt Lake had a couple of runs available, but kept straying offside, making them worthless. RSL's next great chance came in the 41st minute when Luis Gil outran Dan Gargan to the outside. His low cross was only slightly behind Alvaro Saborio.
Galaxy's attack was so impotent that it took them 39 minutes to even register a shot. Not a shot on target, just a shot in general. They had one legitimate chance during first half stoppage time. It came in the form of a Gyasi Zardes header wide of the goal.
Galaxy came out in the second half a little more lively. They controlled possession for a good portion of the half, but still failed to really test the RSL defense for the first twenty minutes. They did manage to double their shot count in the first twenty minutes, but still none of them made it on target. Their first one target came as the clock struck 66 minutes when Nick Rimando was forced to tap an Alan Gordon header barely over the bar.
Rimando had to come up big again in the 70th minute. Although it wasn't a save, Rimando cut out a cross from Travis Ishizaki. Had he failed, it would have been an easy tap in for Gyasi Zardes.
On the ensuing counter attack, RSL had a golden chance that almost ended in either a spectacular goal from Saborio or an own goal off Dan Gargan. Gargan's clearance skidded a couple feet wide of the bar and went for an RSL corner.
Saborio created another great chance with about 15 minutes left when he stole the ball from a stumbling A.J. De la Garza. His shot was deflected, saved by Jamie Pinedo and sent out for a corner. The corner was an almost chance as well, but the header was off the mark.
The thunder returned at the very death of the match. On an LA free kick as the clock struck 90 minutes, Omar Gonzalaez tried to sneak into the box but was dragged down by Jamison Olave. The referee's assistant made the call, as opposed to the ref himself, and Olave was sent into rage at the linesman over the decision.
Gonzalez did go down quite easily, but there was contact and a bit of a pull from Olave. It was desperate and mostly unneeded defending.
For the RSL fans who disagreed with the call, and Olave I suppose, Juninho's penalty was saved by the current USA number one keeper, Nick Rimando,
Olave probably should have given RSL the victory seconds before the final whistle. He received a pass on the edge of the box and fired a shot barely wide of the goal.
Once again, after watching a highly entertaining Champions League match in the afternoon, having this one as a downer was awful. Tuesday night, I wasn't expecting much at all. This one, however, I was expecting two teams who were desperate to get their slow starts to the season into gear.What I got instead was a Real Salt Lake side that looked out of sync and a Galaxy side that didn't entirely look like they wanted to be there for the opening 45 minutes.
I'm sure the weather delay had quite a bit to do with the apathy on the pitch. Sitting around for a whole hour waiting to get things under way had a lot to do with it, but I still expected a little more urgency, especially out of LA. Thankfully, this one was saved a bit by the exciting drama of the final minutes.
Hopefully this somewhat ugly slate of midweek games leads to a more exciting weekend.