After a loss last weekend to fellow expansion club Chivas USA and with the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy coming to town riding a four-game winning streak, Real Salt Lake wasn't given much hope of hanging with one of the top clubs in MLS on Saturday night.
"We believed in ourselves, and tonight we made believers out of everyone else," said Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger.
After struggling last week in a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA, RSL felt they had something to prove.
"We looked back at Chivas and we weren't playing for each other," said midfielder Brian Kamler. "But we play our best when we play for each other and do the simple things well. Tonight we did the little things well and when we do little things well, good things happen.
Good things happened for Real as they came from behind to claim a hard-fought 2-1 victory, but perhaps the games biggest story was rookie goalkeeper Jay Nolly. With regular keeper D.J. Countess out nursing a shoulder injury, Nolly played in his first professional game.
"It is definitely different coming out for your first game with players like (Clint) Mathis and (Eddie) Pope on the field," Nolly said. "They had a lot of confidence in me and that helped."
In the early going Nolly looked a little bit tennative, but knew he had to live up to that confidence.
"I thought, I just can't bring the level of this team down," Nolly said.
And after shaking off the early jitters Nolly was solid between the posts. He made several point-blank stops, recording nine saves on the night as the Galaxy had 14 total attempts at goal.
"You know you want to protect him," Pope said. "But he played really well tonight and bailed us out a few times."
Getting the first win is big for a rookie 'keeper. But winning as a team is the crown jewel.
"It felt good to get a win," Nolly said, "But this isn't nearly as big for me as it was for the team."
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.