SALT LAKE CITY - After defeating the New England Revolution 1-0 in their last game before the All-Star break, Chivas USA came to Utah looking to build on that victory and continue to fight their way back into the MLS Cup Playoffs race.
But after seeing Real Salt Lake thankfully receive a couple of donations, Chivas USA left without what would have been a milestone second consecutive league victory, instead falling 2-1 to RSL.
In classic Hans Westerhof style, the visitors began with high energy pressure that kept the RSL defense back in their own end to start the match. The tactic nearly paid off in the fourth minute when Isaac Romo rolled a shot past D.J. Countess and across the face of goal, then in the 27th minute, Arturo Torres ran onto a long pass from Ramon Ramirez out of midfield to put Chivas on top.
But the same intensity that Chivas came out with in the first half, RSL brought in the second. In the 49th minute Andy Williams received the ball at the top of the penalty area, looked up and placed his shot into the lower left of the net. It was the 5,000th MLS goal, but a back breaker for Chivas.
Ezra Hendrickson took full responsibility on the goal. He felt that he let the pass get through to Williams, a mistake he doesn't make often.
"It was unfortunate that it happened today," said Hendrickson. "They were able to score and get some momentum. At the end of the day if I don't give up that pass and they don't score right there, we keep the 1-0 lead."
Later Chris Brown was taken down in the box and RSL given a penalty. There was contact made, but the Chivas players certainly took issue whether it was worthy of a foul. Jason Kreis converted from the spot to give the home side a 2-1 victory.
"The penalty kick was questionable," said Hendrickson, "but the call was made and we have to live with it."
"There were two gifts," said Chivas coach Hans Westerhof. "The first was ours and the second one was from the referee."
Even with the loss, Westerhof is confident in his team and his style. Playing a high energy style in heat and at altitude could be a recipe for disaster, especially with a team that admittedly was lacking fitness when the Dutchman took over the reins in May. But the team was prepared to play in Saturday's conditions.
"There's no excuse," said Westerhof. "We trained here yesterday, in the afternoon at this time so we knew what we could expect. This has to be our style and we will play in wherever."
Westerhof felt that the teams were fairly even, that perhaps his side deserved a point from the match.
"There was no big difference between the two teams here," said Westerhof. "Before this game, they won four, we won three.
"Perhaps a draw would have been more justice."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.