By ANTHONY ZILIS
CHICAGO — It’s just been that kind of week for Real Salt Lake.
Jean Alexandre was suspended early in the week for a tackle in Salt Lake’s game against D.C. United last weekend, leaving Fabian Espindola as the only Salt Lake forward with a start under his belt for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Fire.
Then, Espindola went down in the sixth minute of the 0-0 draw.
“That's just another one,” Kyle Beckerman said with a sigh. “Things right now just aren't going our way.”
Salt Lake was forced to insert Luis Gil for Espindola, and a scant offensive performance followed for each team.
Collen Warner threatened to put Real Salt Lake on top in the 19th minute with a point-blank volley just outside the six-yard box, but Sean Johnson made an impressive reaction save to preserve the deadlock.
Johnson has allowed just one goal in his last five games after he was benched for a six-game stretch.
“We were solid all around (on defense). We limited their chances,” Johnson said. “We keep rolling. Coming back to play, I think you just have to have the right mentality.”
Orr Barouch’s 82nd minute shot sent about half of the Toyota Park crowd into a frenzy after it deflected off of a defender and landed on top of the net, just over the crossbar, giving the illusion of a goal.
That wasn’t the only time Barouch tricked the crowd – his fall in the box in the 64th minute resulted in a yellow card after the referee initially pointed to the penalty spot.
Just like in previous games, the Fire just couldn’t finish the few chances they had.
“We’ve been able to control on defense, it’s just about being able to control the chances that we get,” said Dominic Oduro, who added that the Salt Lake defense was sitting back because of the speed from he and Patrick Nyarko.
“Right now, we don’t have to hit the panic button, but at the same time we just have to get there. There’s no excuse for us.”
Still, the Fire can feel as if they are heading up. A six-game unbeaten streak sounds a lot better than the ten-game winless streak that plagued them for months.
Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, has totaled just eight points in the past eight games after beginning the season after compiling 15 in their first six.
Still, Beckerman sees improvement for a team that will get at least part of their attacking regiment back very soon.
“We've kind of gotten some tough skin and learned just to get on with it,” he said.
“We've got to get some guys back. But I thought, passing is coming back. I think we had some really good passing combinations. If we were a bit sharper in front of goal, I think we could've gotten one or two.”
Real Salt Lake assistant coach C.J. Brown, who retired last season after spending his entire 13-year MLS career with the Fire, returned to Toyota Park Wednesday and was honored with a postgame ceremony.
“I think it’s finally settling in that I’m not here anymore, and that was tough. I appreciate the years that I’ve been here,” Brown said. “I was glad that people were so appreciative.”
After giving a speech Brown, who said he worried fans wouldn’t be happy with him, went and greeted a chanting Section 8 crowd.
“He was super excited for this game,” Beckerman said. “We were excited for him. He’s a big player in this league, so it was a big night for him and I’m glad they did that for him.”
Marco Pappa came on in the 70th minute after missing four games while representing Guatamala in the Gold Cup.
Salt Lake’s Gold Cup participants Alvaro Saborio of Costa Rica and Arturo Alvarez of El Salvador were not in the 18 after Gold Cup stints.