Real Salt Lake keeps Montreal Impact winless
Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was talking about a specific play, but his words applied to the game — and season — as a whole.
"It was close, but close isn't good enough," Ricketts said, referring to his narrow miss on a penalty kick in the first half that resulted in the only goal of a 1-0 loss Wednesday night to Real Salt Lake — the Impact's fourth loss in the first five games of their inaugural Major League Soccer season.
It was a mood of "what could have and what should have been" in the post-game locker room after a disputed hand ball on Montreal forward Justin Braun resulted in the penalty kick in the 13th minute.
"He called it," said Braun, a Utah native, of referee Ricardo Salazar. "I felt like my hand was at my side. … I felt like we deserved to walk away with a point today."
Salt Lake's Paulo Junior converted the opportunity, sneaking the ball into the lower left corner of the net, inches from the outstretched arm of Ricketts.
A flurry of opportunities in the final minutes resulted in narrow misses and more frustration as the Impact (0-4-1) was shut out for the third time.
The players maintained the positive line afterward.
"It's a work in progress," said Ricketts. "The results will come. It's important that we just hold our heads up."
Montreal coach Jesse Marsch, however, did little to hide his exasperation.
"That part has become completely infuriating," Marsch said of the call against Braun and a no-call late in the second half on a possible hand ball by Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman. "Completely infuriating."
The Impact played with a man advantage for three minutes in stoppage time after a Salt Lake injury, but goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defender Jamison Olave turned away every Montreal opportunity.
When the whistle blew to end the game, Marsch sank into a crouch position on the sideline, clearly deflated by yet another loss.
"It's hard because right now the results aren't going our way and it hurts," Marsch said. "It hurts all of us. But we all believe in each other and it's getting closer and closer.
"I felt that was a real team out on the field. They battled for each other, came into a tough place against a good team and played really, really well."
Montreal, which has scored just three goals in five games this season, mustered little offence through the midway point of the second half. The Impact failed to put a shot on goal in the opening half, and tested Rimando just twice on the night.
Every corner kick seemed to find a Salt Lake defender; every shot went wide or over the net — everywhere but its intended target.
It was Montreal's second game in five nights and the middle of three in an eight-day span. The Impact head home to play Toronto FC on Saturday.
Forward Sanni Nyassi didn't start for the first time this season, but entered in the 63rd minute and had both of the Impact's shots on goal.
Real Salt Lake improved to 4-1.