for this game

Real Salt Lake, Houston play to draw

Jul 4, 2008 - 5:14 AM
By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- With first place on the line, neither Real Salt Lake nor the Houston Dynamo could put one in the back of the net. Though not for a lack of trying.

Entering Thursday night's showdown between, the two clubs had 19 points apiece - two behind the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy. But despite a relentlessly active offensive showing by Real Salt Lake and a few late chances by Houston, the teams played to a scoreless draw to remain in a dead heat for second place in the West.

"(First place) would have been huge. We were all really up for it," Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We were really looking forward to getting into first place, at least for a couple days. It's just not our time yet."

From the opening minutes of the game - in which Beckerman mishandled an open scoring chance inside the box - Salt Lake had opportunity after opportunity fall just short, particularly in the second half. In the 47th minute, midfielder Javier Morales lobbed a pass from 40 yards out right to forward Kenny Deuchar, but the veteran forward's header went straight into the turf.

Minutes later, Andy Williams' shot went just wide right and, two minutes after that, Robbie Findley had a chance of his own, only to see his line drive sail high.

Salt Lake's best chance of the night came in the 57th minute - and once again Morales and Deuchar nearly connected for the go-ahead goal. Morales' corner kick went right to Deuchar in front of the net, but his header from point-blank range was blocked by Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

"When they took Deuchar off (in the 73rd minute), actually I think we kind of breathed a big sigh of relief," Onstad said. "He was putting stuff on and causing all sorts of problems. We hadn't dealt with him all night. Granted, he probably missed a few opportunities I'm sure he would like back."

Onstad blocked an Ian Joy shot attempt moments later to put a cap on a flurry of Salt Lake scoring chances.

"We just needed to finish," Beckerman said. "Overall, we played well, we were the better team. That's what's kind of happened to us this year. All of our ties have been when we're the better team, and we just haven't been able to get that final touch."

After getting outshot and outplayed for most of the game, Houston nearly stole the game in the 84th minute, as Brian Mullan found a crease inside the box and drilled a laser from a few feet out, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando knocked it away to avert the threat.

"I think we were very, very close there at the end of the game," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Rimando made some good saves and Brian (Mullan) was inches away from getting the correct touch on Brad's (Davis) service. ... When you look at the game, you kind of feel lucky and you kind of feel unlucky."

The teams' collective frustration spilled out in the waning minutes. Houston's Dwayne de Rosario and Corey Ashe got into a tussle into a tussle with RSL midfielder Chris Wingert, who threw a forearm and was immediately ejected.

"I was on the ball ready to walk away, and I got pushed off the ball for no reason. So I pushed somebody back. And then De Rosario and Ashe were both there, we got into a shoving match and that was it," Wingert said of the incident. "I don't think there should have been any red cards, but for sure if I'm getting a red card somebody else is, I would think."

Fans expressed their displeasure, throwing drinks on the field toward the Houston players and the referees.

RSL remained unbeaten at home, but remained just under .500 for the season at 5-6-5. Houston is 4-4-8.