Big night from Jeff Attinella gets Real Salt Lake out of Sporting Park with 0-0 result

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Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but often, they’re often a pretty good start. So when we see that Sporting Kansas City outshot Real Salt Lake 20-5 on Saturday night, putting nine shots on target to its MLS Cup final opposition’s one, the final score becomes a curiosity. How did RSL escape Sporting Park with a 0-0 result, given those numbers?

The answer is Jeff Attinella. Stepping in for the rested Nick Rimando, who carried a knew injury back with him from U.S. Men’s National Team duty, the RSL No. 2 was called on early to stop Graham Zusi. Then came Dom Dwyer. Then Seth Sinovic. Finally, before the teams left to regroup, a volley from Benny Feilhaber threatened to open the scoring. As he did with every other chance over the first 45 minutes, Attinella defused it.

By halftime in Kansas, Attinella had already been called on to make four stops, with Aurélien Collin testing him again within a minute of the second kickoff.  Just past the hour, a tight-angle shot past a beaten Atinella saw Dwyer nail the post. Meanwhile, the only time RSL called on Eric Kronberg was a 35-yard shot from Kyle Beckerman, one that came 78 minutes into the match.

This wasn’t a titanic #1 versus #2, as our Power Rankings suggested. For one night, at least, Sporting Kansas City was the much better team, but as was the case last December, almost nothing could separate the two teams. If there had been extra time in this rematch, however, Sporting would have likely broken through.

One on level, you want to give Real Salt Lake credit for getting a point from a very difficult place to play. Playing without Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, and Joao Plata, Jeff Cassar’s team stayed with the defending champions for 90 minutes.

But “stayed with” is a very generous description. Cassar can’t be happy with what he saw. Sporting Kansas City was the better team, but in such a low scoring game, that doesn’t always equate to three points.

It does, however, tell us something about the two teams. At least, the two teams we saw on Saturday.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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