for this game

Real Salt Lake, Earthquakes play to scoreless draw

Jun 19, 2008 - 4:13 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- After more than hour's worth of stifling defense, Real Salt Lake finally found some scoring opportunities against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.

Unfortunately for the fourth-year franchise, all those scoring chances fell just short as the teams settled for scoreless draw. While Real (4-5-4) managed to remain undefeated at home this season with a 3-0-4 mark - one of just two teams in Major League Soccer to accomplish the feat - it missed out on an opportunity to vault into second place in the Western Conference standings.

"Any time you don't win at home, you're losing points," Real midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "The games that we're tying, we're the better team on the field. We're pretty happy we're not giving up many goals, and we're not losing. That's a good sign for us to keep pushing forward."

For the bulk of the game, neither defense gave much room, with the teams combining for just two shots on goal in the first half. Midway through the second half, however, Real's offense finally began to wear down San Jose (3-7-2).

In fact, for a few moments, Real even managed to take the lead - only to have the goal overturned. In the 71st minute, Robbie Findley received a corner kick and headed the ball to Beckerman, who poked home the game's first goal just inside the right post.

However, about 90 seconds later, the referees determined that Beckerman was offsides, and the goal was erased.

"I saw it coming, and maybe (the header) was going in, but I wasn't going to chance it if it hit the post. And really, I thought I was onside. I saw it off the header, and then I went," Beckerman said. "It seemed like the referee was fine with it being a goal, the sideline and the center, and then all of a sudden it was changed...Right now, we feel a little bit robbed."

While the overturned goal was a source of controversy, head referee Jasen Anno offered an explanation in a written statement following the game:

"The decision was not overturned, but when the ball was put into the goal, (the) assistant referee did not think Kyle Beckerman touched the ball. The center (referee) came over to discuss the play. Assistant referee asked if Kyle Beckerman touched the ball, as he was in an official position. The referee confirmed that Kyle Beckerman did touch the ball, so the decision was made to disallow the goal and award the offside infraction."

Despite a visibly frustrated Beckerman and a deflated Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd, the Salt Lake offense continued attacking, but continually came up just short of breaking the stalemate.

In the 73rd minute, Javier Morales got a good look from 15 yards out, but his shot clanked off the left post. Nine minutes later, Kenny Cutler drilled a sharp line drive from 25 yards away, but San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon made a leaping stop to help preserve the draw.

Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando recorded his third straight shutout - although his defense did most of the work for him, holding the Earthquakes to just one shot on goal the entire evening. The team now has a 276-minute shutout streak going, just two minutes shy of the franchise record.

"I feel like we're getting a bunch of chances, so if we can keep getting those shutouts, the goals will come," Beckerman said.

Salt Lake outshot San Jose, 24-7, overall, helped in part by the fact that the Earthquakes were a man down for the length of the second half. San Jose defender Jason Hernandez was ejected after his second caution late in the first half, opening up some room for the RSL offense to breathe.

However, despite the man advantage and a glut of scoring chances, Salt Lake could never capitalize.

"I think that our players have to a little bit more of an aggressive mentality when you're playing against a team that's a man down. In order for you to move those players around, you've got to be aggressive and cause defenders to make decisions on who to play," Real coach Jason Kreis said. "We're a good enough team, and playing against a team that's a man down, we should score two goals."