WASHINGTON — Jeff Cunningham got an assist, and Real Salt Lake escaped with a point Saturday night in Major League Soccer play.

"If you get a goal in this stadium, you take it," said Salt Lake coach John Ellinger, moments after his team's 1-1 tie with host D.C. United at a humid RFK Stadium.

Washington (14-3-9) entered the game in first place in the Eastern Conference. Real Salt Lake, now 9-12-6, began Saturday tied for last in the Western Conference with Los Angeles.

But Chris Klein scored his sixth goal of the season, on an assist from Cunningham, in the 65th minute to tie the game at 1-1. It was 10th assist of the season for Cunningham, who became just the ninth player in MLS history with 15 goals and 10 assists in one season.

"Honestly, I didn't even know until coach told me just now," said Cunningham. "My main focus right now is helping this team get in the playoffs."

"He has obviously been very valuable," RSL defender Eddie Pope said. "He ignites us when he scores" or gets an assist.

Pope was one of three former United players in the starting lineup for Real Salt Lake, along with goalie Scott Garlick and midfielder Carey Talley. Ellinger grew up in the Maryland suburbs and had about 50 family and friends at the game.

Real Salt Lake did not get off a shot in the first 27 minutes, and was outshot 13-6 overall. So a tie was huge for the visitors before a crowd of 19,812. The teams have no love lost for each other: United had 15 fouls Saturday; RSL had 7.

"They are arguably the best team in the league," said Garlick, who had a big save in the closing minutes. "They are the team to beat."

Teen phenom Freddy Adu scored on a free kick in the closing seconds of the first half to give United a 1-0 lead. His shot with his left foot found the upper right of the net and left Garlick nearly motionless.

Washington goalie Nick Rimando came up big early in the second half, stopping shots by Jason Kreis and Mehdi Ballouchy about a minute apart.

But thanks to Cunningham, Real came away with a tie. Klein's goal skidded across the grass and beat Rimando as he dove to his right.

"He is my vote for MVP," Ellinger said of Cunningham.

RSL players feel they still have a good shot at the playoffs.

"It is going to be a nail biter all the way down to the wire," Ellinger said.

"Hopefully we can build on this. No doubt: We are going to the playoffs," Cunningham said. "This one is important. Every game is crucial at this point."

Still, with United missing several key players due to suspensions (Bobby Boswell, Alecko Eskandarian and Christian Gomez), Cunningham felt RSL could have done better on Saturday.

"We let two points slip away," he said.