Goalkeepers Shine as Real Salt Lake and Seattle Battle to Scoreless Tie
Goalkeepers hogged the spotlight as Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders battled to a scoreless draw Friday in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal in front of a play-off record crowd of 34,941 at CenturyLink Field.
Real Salt Lake's keeper Nick Rimando tallied five saves and played the final 20 minutes with a swollen eye from an elbow that nearly knocked him out of the game.
Not to be outdone, Michael Gspurning had four saves to help the Sounders settle for a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake for their third deadlock of the season.
The two teams will now head back to Rio Tinto Stadium for the decisive second leg Thursday.
Rimando, who had three saves against the Sounders this season, made a couple of diving stops to thwart back-to-back corners in the 33rd minute. First, he stopped a Sammy Ochoa header and, moments later, robbed Jhon Kennedy Hurtado's diving effort.
Christian Tiffert unleashed a strong header on goal from an Adam Johansson cross in the 51st minute but Rimando was there to stop the ball before it crossed the goal-line.
In the 66th minute, Rimando suffered a nasty gash near his eye when he was hit by a wayward elbow on the temple while between Tiffert and Kyle Beckerman.
He remained on the ground for about five minutes but stayed in the game despite a swelling eye.
After that, the Sounders tested him with several crosses but Rimando was up to the task.
The Sounders had a chance to break the deadlock in the 85th minute when Fredy Montero flicked a ball to David Estrada at the far post but the latter's kick went wide.
Gspurning also had some highlights in the game, including a brilliant save on a breakaway by Ned Grabavoy in the 23rd minute.
In the 38th minute, Gspurning made a quick reflex save with his left hand to stymie a Will Johnson shot from about 14 yards.
Gspurning was tested one more time in the 85th minute, diving to his right to stop an Alvaro Saborio header that came as the Sounders were pushing hard for a goal.
The last save extended Real Salt Lake's scoreless streak to 332 minutes in MLS competition. It also meant that no goals had been scored in the last 299 minutes that these two teams have played against each other.
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