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Real Salt Lake plays another scoreless draw at Chicago

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Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy has the wind knocked out of him during the first half of an MLS soccer game against the Chicago Fire, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/John Smierciak)

By Daniel Gaichas

Special to The Tribune

First published May 09 2012 06:00PM
Updated Aug 28, 2012 11:32PM

Bridgeview, Ill. • Real Salt Lake came into Wednesday night’s game with three draws in their last five visits to Toyota Park.

RSL backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, starting for an injured Nick Rimando, had tied in three of his four previous career starts.

Why change anything? RSL made it four of six and Reynish made it four of five as they played the Chicago Fire to a scoreless draw in front of a crowd of 13,544.

The draw puts RSL at the top of the Western Conference standings and gives it the highest point total in Major League Soccer, but by just one point over San Jose and Seattle (2-0 winners over FC Dallas on Wednesday night).

RSL coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the lineup from Saturday against New England. Two of the changes: the aforementioned Reynish-for-Rimando swap, and Jonny Steele replaced the suspended Will Johnson in midfield.

Chris Schuler also started in place of Nat Borchers on defense while Paulo Junior started up front in place of Fabian Espindola, who was not on the bench, as he was given the night off to be with his baby born on Friday.

The best chance for either side came in the fourth minute. The Fire’s Patrick Nyarko sent a perfect cross to Dominic Oduro. But with an open net in front of him and Reynish at sea, he headed the ball off the crossbar from six yards out. Sebastian Grazzini had a rebound opportunity but skied it over the bar.

The Fire enjoyed the majority of possessions in the first half but could generate few chances after Oduro’s miss.

RSL also had its share of chances.

Alvaro Saborío had the two best chances for RSL, flicking just wide after a nice feed from Javier Morales in the 16th minute, and then shooting just wide from 25 yards out in the 29th minute.

The second half saw RSL with two quick chances: Paulo Junior shot from 30 yards out just 30 seconds in, and Luis Gil tried from distance in the 51st minute — both efforts were saved by Fire keeper Sean Johnson.

Kreis was pleased with the defensive effort that now sees RSL unbeaten in its last four matches.

"The guys worked incredibly hard," said Kreis. "It’s been awhile since we had a shutout. We made that a pretty clear objective for our players. Anytime we are on the road, we feel like it starts with our defensive effort. It starts with trying to keep a shutout and we go from there."

Morales left the match in the 28th minute due to a right quad strain. With RSL playing Saturday in Seattle (8 p.m., Ch. 4), Kreis was not going to take any chances Wednesday night, but said Morales should be ready for Saturday.

At halftime, RSL assistant coach and former Fire player C.J. Brown was inducted into the Ring of Fire honoring Fire legends. Brown played 13 seasons (1998-2010) with the Fire, making a total of 372 appearances in all competitions. Brown was Fire team captain from 2008 to 2009.

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