This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • Real Salt Lake began life without star midfielder Javier Morales on Saturday night.
RSL didn't score.
Morales suffered a gruesome ankle injury one week ago, and his loss was noticeable in Real's 0-0 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In its first six Major League Soccer games of the season, Real Salt Lake outscored its opponents, 9-2, and was shut out only once.
Against Houston, it was a different story. RSL fired 13 shots at Dynamo keeper Tally Hall, but only one was on goal.
Real Salt Lake squeezed off nine shots in the second half, but none of them tested Hall.
Morales was missed, at least in RSL's first outing since suffering what will likely be a season-ending injury on Marcos Mondaini's nasty tackle in a game against Chivas USA.
"Of course there is going to be a difference," said Real defender Chris Wingert. "We're missing a guy who may be the MVP of the league to this point. But at the same time, I thought the guys did well. We have excellent players in the midfield."
A facilitator on the Real Salt Lake attack, Morales' ability to scramble the defense and create easy scoring chances for his teammates was absent against Houston, which had allowed 10 goals in its first nine games.
"I thought we had more of the ball," Wingert said. "At the same time, we weren't creating a ton of chances. That's just the way it goes sometimes. We need to be a little better a little sharper in those areas."
Said midfielder Kyle Beckerman: "You miss having [Morales] on the ball. ... But weren't firing on all cylinders. Even if Javy is there, maybe we still struggle a little bit. So we'll take the tie."
Collen Warner, who had played 170 minutes while seeing action in four of Real Salt Lake's first six games, started in place of Morales.
"I was really excited to get the chance to play," Warner said.
Asked how Real played on offense without Morales, he said, "I thought it went pretty well, overall.
"We were a little 'off' in the final third, I guess you could say. A lot of our passes went astray when we got to the crucial moment when we needed a good pass. But I thought we played well."
According to coach Jason Kreis, Warner "didn't plant the flag in the ground" as far as claiming Morales' starting position.
"We're not walking out of here saying the job is his," Kreis said, "and we're not walking out of here saying the job isn't his."