SANDY — Real Salt Lake endured an hour-plus thunderstorm as its match was about to kick off Wednesday night game against the L.A. Galaxy to come away with a 0-0draw over its Western Conference rival.
Nick Rimando earned the 118th shutout of his career to lead a defensively stout RSL squad, which still has scored a goal in nearly 500 minutes.
The Salt Lake side returned to its 4-4-2 formation, with Jordan Allen and Luke Mulholland tucked behind attacking midfielder Luis Gil and Alvaro Saborio and Devon Sandoval playing up top of the formation. But head coach Jeff Cassar stressed in post-game comments that it was “not necessarily a diamond” midfield, and the formation switch was more due to available personnel (Javier Morales and Sebastian Jaime were out with a concussion and fractured tibia, respectively), and less with dissatisfaction with the squad’s change to a 4-3-3.
RSL faces a quick turnaround as it gets ready for a match at Chicago on Saturday.
Here are three quick thoughts on RSL’s latest result at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Rimando made three saves on nine shots faced, but none were bigger than his penalty-kick stop at the beginning of stoppage time. As second-half substitute Juninho stepped up to the penalty spot following a questionable foul called on RSL’s Demar Phillips, Rimando stoned the Brazilian with a diving save to his left to keep the ball out of the net and preserve the scoreless draw.
"I tried to ask the referee what was going on, tried to figure out what the call was all about, then just focus on the ball and I was lucky to guess the right way," Rimando said of the penalty. "The center ref had no idea. I kept on asking him, and he wouldn't say anything. He said it was a PK when I asked him."
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena called the penalty "whatever."
"We'll take the point and get out of here," he said. "The penalty is whatever."
Thunderstorms across the Salt Lake Valley pushed the start of the match back more than an hour, with the official kickoff coming at 8:40 p.m. Both teams were on the field during the national anthem at 7:30 p.m., but a booming lightning strike and torrential downpour sent players, officials and fans looking for cover before the match could kick off.
Head coach Jeff Cassar said the delay wasn't ideal — but the players did a good job of staying loose during the lengthy break before the match started.
"We kind of just let them have a mental break because we didn't know exactly when we were going to be going out," Cassar said. "Some were playing darts, some were listening to music, and then when we knew we were going to go out, we knew 15 minutes before, and that's when we started to refocus."
Real Salt Lake announced shortly before kickoff that assistant coach Andy “Bomma” Williams has voluntarily entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program following an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Williams, an RSL original who has been with the club since November 2004 as a player, scout and assistant coach, did not appear on the Salt Lake bench during Wednesday night’s match. He will not return to team activities until he is cleared by the SABH program, MLS and RSL’s own investigation.
First-time DUI offenders face a Class B misdemeanor, meaning offenders face 48 hours confinement or 48 hours of community service.
Williams scored 14 goals in 189 appearances for Real Salt Lake during a six-year playing career after being selected first overall in the 2004 MLS expansion draft. The Jamaican international also scored 13 goals in 97 caps with the Reggae Boyz from 1997-2009.