Real Salt Lake 0, Sporting Kansas City 0 | 2016 MLS Match Recap
Both teams got a point out of this one. Neither one got what it really wanted, though.
Sunday's scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium denied Real Salt Lake a chance to clinch a Western Conference postseason berth and kept Sporting Kansas City from strengthening their hold on the West's sixth and final spot in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Real could have clinched with a win, but the hosts remained in fourth place on 46 points – one point clear of Seattle and two clear of Sporting and the Timbers with one match to go. RSL will miss the playoffs if they lose their regular-season finale away to the Sounders and both Sporting and Portland win their final matches.
Kansas City's clean sheet, behind four saves from goalkeeper Tim Melia, kept them ahead of the Timbers on the goal-differential tiebreaker. They would guarantee a sixth straight playoff appearance with a victory over San Jose at home on Oct. 23, or they will advance with a draw if Portland draw or lose.
RSL nearly went up 1-0 in the 20th minute, but Sporting striker Dom Dwyer was on the line to block Burrito Martinez's set-piece header. Dwyer had a good chance to give Sporting a goal in the 40th, but RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando charged out to knock the ball away just inside the penalty area.
Rimando finished with five saves, including a clutch denial of Dwyer's bouncing header in the 86th minute, to help the hosts split the points.
- RSL: Despite home drought, RSL still believe in offense
- SKC: Melia comes up big for SKC in scoreless draw
- MELIA BREAKS THE JINX: Sporting 'keeper Tim Melia, who was an understudy of Rimando's in 2010-11 at Real Salt Lake but never saw MLS action with the club, had gone 0-5-0 against RSL before Sunday's big effort. Two of his four saves were highlight-reel stops on Joao Plata, both from close range. Sporting's shutout was their first since a 2-0 home victory over Vancouver on Aug. 20 – but Melia's first since a 3-0 home blanking of Seattle on July 24.
- BESLER'S BACK: After sitting out Sporting's last two matches as a healthy scratch, center back Matt Besler responded to the benching with a big outing on Sunday. Besler had three blocks, four interceptions and four clearances, helping Kansas City pick up a crucial road point. That followed his solid showing on Tuesday in the United States' 1-1 international friendly draw against New Zealand.
- MOVSISYAN'S HEEL: Real striker Yura Movsisyan, who has been battling a painful left heel bruise, started Sunday's match but had to make an early exit. Movsisyan exited in the 56th minute, shortly after an awkward play in the box. Movsisyan received a cross at close range, but he couldn't get the ball out from under his foot and the chance went begging.
- RSL – Sunday, Oct. 23 at Seattle Sounders (3 pm ET, MLS LIVE)
- SKC – Wednesday, Oct. 19 vs. Central FC (CCL) (8 pm ET, UDN)