Seattle, WA – Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando left the field with blood on his right glove, a cut and swelling near his right eye, and another shutout.
Rimando made five saves in a duel with counterpart Michael Gspurning to secure his fourth shutout this season against Seattle Sounders FC, and Real Salt Lake managed a 0-0 draw at CenturyLink Field in the MLS playoffs on Friday night.
Real will host the second match of the two-legged Western Conference semifinal series Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real and Seattle have played three scoreless draws this season, with the first two in the regular season.
RSL won the other regular-season match, 1-0, and can advance to the conference final with a home win against Seattle in the second leg. Real defeated Seattle in the semifinals on aggregate last season, 3-2, despite a 2-0 road loss.
Rimando grabbed the spotlight just after the half-hour mark in the opening leg in Seattle on Friday night as he made a great save on Sammy Ochoa and, off the ensuing corner, denied Jhon Kennedy Hurtado with another spectacular stop.
Gspurning did not play in the first two meetings against Real this season, but posted a shutout in a scoreless tie late in the regular season against RSL. He made his biggest save of the first half on Will Johnson in the 38th minute.
RSL tested Gspurning again early in the second half, but Alvaro Saborio failed to get a lot on a header and the Seattle goalkeeper made an easy save.
Ochoa lifted a great chance from 12 yards over the bar five minutes after half as Seattle wasted a great chance and Rimando followed with a stop on Christian Tiffert, as he knocked down a close-range header and covered it on the line.
RSL had a scare midway into the second half when Rimando collided with Tiffert in the area and remained down for almost 10 minutes. He was visibly shaken up, but with blood on his glove, small bandages to cover a cut near his eye, and swelling already evident, he remained in the match.
Seattle struggled to test Rimando for the remainder of the match, but the Real goalkeeper was lucky to watch a deflected shot from David Estrada go just wide of the right post in the 81st minute.
Gspurning capped his four-save performance with another save on Saborio, as he dove to make a stop at the bottom-left corner on the last great opportunity in the match.
RSL held on for the scoreless draw through eight minutes of stoppage time, and will have the edge in the second leg at home against Seattle.