FRISCO, Texas — It might have taken a bit longer than expected, but Real Salt Lake finally left Pizza Hut Park with a point after a 0-0 draw with FC Dallas on Sunday night.
"I'll remember it (getting our first point here) because it was hard fought and the guys kept to it," Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said. "We need to really start focusing on the positive things. To get our first point here and to get another shutout against a team that's shown to be very dangerous on the counterattack is a good thing for us."
Before Sunday's scoreless deadlock, RSL had been 0-9-0 in Frisco dating back to 2005.
Sunday's match was in the 83rd minute when it was suspended due to lightning in the area. Play resumed 1 hour and 52 minutes later in front of a mostly empty stadium. Including the delay, the game took 3 hours and 43 minutes to complete.
Resuming after nearly a two-hour break presents its own set of challenges for any coach and his players.
"I think (the biggest thing) is just to keep the guys into it," Kreis said. "I've been involved in a game like that. I was pleased to see the guys were into it and ready. They put a decent effort into those last 10 minutes."
Just five minutes after play resumed, Salt Lake nearly scored off a Kyle Beckerman free kick. Beckerman sent a booming right-footed shot toward the near post from 40 yards but saw his attempt denied by Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who knocked it over the touch line.
"I just wanted to get a hard one on in the direction of the goal," Beckerman said. "I probably would have liked it a little bit lower so one of these guys could flick it on."
In a game with few scoring chances, RSL finished with two shots on goal, doubling their total from last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Houston. In addition to the Beckerman free kick, Salt Lake's other attempt on frame came when an 11th-minute blast by Will Johnson was saved by Hartman.
Ten minutes later, it looked like RSL took a 1-0 lead after a header by Alvaro Saborio landed in the back of the net following a solid cross by Johnson. However, Saborio was ruled offside, keeping things scoreless.
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando finished with three saves, including two huge stops. The first was in the 25th minute when he denied a volley by Dallas center back George John at the right post.
The second came just after the break when he got a hand on a blast from FCD midfielder Eric Alexander after a great feed from Andrew Jacobson, knocking Alexander's attempt over the crossbar to set up a Dallas corner in the 47th minute.
"It's huge. The one that he dug out in the left corner was phenomenal. That's the one I remember the most," Kreis said. "It's just critical. When you're not playing your best, you need two things. You need a real resilient effort and you need guys in the back to make plays, and we've been getting a lot of that lately."
Kreis made two changes to his first 11 from the group that started the previous Saturday.
Tony Beltran started at right back for Robbie Russell, and that decision paid big dividends as Beltran neutralized FCD left mid Brek Shea, one of their top offensive threats.
"Tony had a strong game," Kreis said. "Tony's a player that we feel has been playing really well lately."
He also started Andy Williams in place of Collen Warner, but Warner did come on for Williams in the 72nd minute.
Sunday night's contest marked the second for RSL since losing playmaking midfielder Javier Morales to a broken ankle on May 11. It's clear the club's adjustment to not having one of their top players remains ongoing.
"It's difficult," Kreis said. "Some of that's because Javier is a special player. Another part of it is that at a different point in the season, we're maybe a little more confident. I think everybody would tell you we're not at our best right now. We're all just not quite at our best. We need to push things along, move forward and have confidence that we're going to be at our best."
With Sunday's result, Salt Lake has a three-match unbeaten streak and is 2-1-1 on the road.
"We've always been jinxed here for some reason," Rimando said. "To get a result, it's not like winning but it's something that we've got to feel good about going into the next week."
RSL returns home to face Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium..
Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.