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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Offensive struggles have Salt Lake Real-ing

By Tony Pizza

In just more than two years as a soccer club, Real Salt Lake has set new levels of mediocrity in the MLS. Now RSL is coming dangerously close to falling in a hole it may have a hard time digging itself out of.

Real Salt Lake is the only team in MLS history to fail to make the postseason in its first two years of existence, and the team is currently on its way to making that three years. RSL is the only team in the past five years to go beyond the first week of June without a win. Real is also the only team with a double-digit winless streak to open a season in the past five years.

And yet, just more than a month ago, 2007 was dubbed a season in which RSL would make a step to the next level.

Unlike the past, the problem doesn’t reside with RSL’s defense, either.

Anchored behind a rapidly improving goalkeeper in Nick Rimando, RSL is giving itself chances to win matches–if only the team could find a way to put shots away on the other end of the field.

RSL recently came off a road trip that saw Rimando follow up a shutout performance against the Chicago Fire on May 27, with another blanking against New England–the second highest scoring team in the league–on June 2.

Rimando also did everything in his power to aide RSL to its first win by picking up 10 saves–many at point-blank range–over 93 minutes to push his shutout streak to 282 minutes before Dominic Oduduro of FC Dallas put an end to it with a rocket shot from the right side on Thursday night.

“Nick Rimando, by my count, probably made four incredible saves for us and really kept us in that game,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis after the 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. “Obviously for him I’m the most disappointed because I think he had another special game and deserved better.”

Even though RSL was able to put two goals on the board against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night, RSL’s problem lies solely in its inability to score goals.

Before Sunday, RSL was shut out in three straight matches and has been held scoreless in more games than it has managed to score. RSL is also on pace to become the lowest scoring team in MLS history. The 2004 Colorado Rapids team averaged just .906 goals per game. This year, RSL is scoring just .818 goals per MLS contest. Nearly one-fourth of that scoring was done by a player now lining up shots for FC Dallas.

It’s clear that much of RSL’s scoring problem resides in the unfamiliarity among the players.

Alecko Eskandarian is a capable scorer and arguable the best primary forward– in terms of hustle–RSL has ever had, but the gelling process seems to be getting such a late start that the playoffs almost seem out of reach at this point.

The good news for RSL is it won’t have its heart torn out by FC Dallas again this year unless it finds some way to make the playoffs.

FC Dallas has made a habit of stealing points from RSL. In three of the past six meetings between the two teams, FC Dallas has stolen four points from RSL and turned around and placed five points it its own pocket with game-changing goals after the 90th minute.

“It’s frustrating. We come out and we want three points and we’re at home and we’re pushing the game,” Rimando said after the latest loss to Dallas. “We need to get more opportunities and get some better chances and definitely not give so many chances up. (FC Dallas) had a lot of shots on goal, and defensively we can’t do that. The result speaks for itself–we didn’t get the result we wanted. We didn’t get one point at home, and we have to do that.”

Even though RSL wasn’t able to pull a win out of its trip to California, two goals may be the jump-start the team needs to salvage something out of this season.

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Real Salt Lake loses a heartbreaker to FC Dallas last Thursday

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