Real Salt Lake didn't take well to the new grass surface covering the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium, losing at home for the first time in club history in dropping a 3-0 decision to the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Chris Armas put the Fire ahead before much of the crowd had even settled in their seats, then Samuel Caballero and Chad Barrett finished off the game with a goal apiece in the second half.
The late arriving fans missed early fireworks when Armas found himself on the end of a poor RSL clearance. Nate Jaqua ran onto a free kick, only to have his shot cleared off his foot by Real defender Matt Behncke. But Behncke's clearance only reached the top of the area and Armas drove it back inside the far post to put Real ahead after just five minutes.
But the tide eventually swung in RSL's favor. In the 27th minute RSL won a free kick outside the left corner of the penalty area. Clint Mathis fired a dipping rocket over the wall that Zach Thornton dove to reach at full stretch before pushing it over the crossbar.
The Fire again came close though in the 41st minute as Thiago took the ball and beat several defenders as he ran into the area and across the face of goal. But the beautiful run went unrewarded as D.J. Countess got in front of the ball to make the save on his close-range effort.
In the second half Chicago came out with renewed energy as they quickly grabbed control of the game and scored another quick goal. In the 52nd minute, the Fire won a freekick on the left, and Armas played a nice cross into Caballero, who powerfully headed the ball home.
The Fire lost another starting striker as Chad Barrett came in for the injured Lubos Reiter. Real made a pair of substitutions for their Trinidad & Tobago national teamers, sending Seth Trembly in to relieve Marlon Rojas on the back line and Dipsy Selolwane for Leslie Fitzpatrick in the 62nd minute.
Real started to create a few chances -- mostly through the work of Trembly -- but to no avail. The best chance came in the 75th minute when Andy Williams shot the ball just out of Thornton's reach. A hard-charging Jason Kreis let the ball sail by as it looked to be headed for the side netting, but it went just wide.
After the missed opportunity by Williams, Chicago put the nail in the coffin in the 84th minute when Barrett netted another goal. Thiago played the ball into the rookie and he spun away from a pair of defenders before driving the ball inside Countess' right-hand post.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Chris Armas (Chicago Fire)
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chicago Fire (5-4-1) vs. Real Salt Lake (3-5-2)
May 28, 2005 -- Rice-Eccles Stadium
CHI -- Chris Armas 1 (unassisted) 5
CHI -- Samuel Caballero 1 (Chris Armas 1) 53
CHI -- Chad Barrett 1 (unassisted) 84
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Logan Pause, Gonzalo Segares, Samuel Caballero, Jim Curtin, Ivan Guerrero, Nate Jaqua, Chris Armas, Thiago, Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 11) (Jesse Marsch 83), Lubos Reiter (Chad Barrett 56).
Substitutes Not Used: Kelly Gray, David Mahoney.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Chris Rolfe 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Chad Barrett 3); FOULS: 16 (Thiago 5); OFFSIDES: 4 (Chad Barrett 2); CORNER KICKS: 11 (Thiago 6); SAVES: 2 (Zach Thornton 2)
Real Salt Lake -- D.J. Countess, Rusty Pierce, Matt Behncke, Brian Dunseth, Marlon Rojas (Seth Trembly 62), Chris Brown (Dante Washington 77), Brian Kamler, Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Dipsy Selolwane 63), Jason Kreis.
Substitutes Not Used: Nikolas Besagno, Jordan Cila, Kenny Cutler, Cameron Knowles, Jay Nolly, Leighton O'Brien.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Clint Mathis 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Clint Mathis 1, Rusty Pierce 1); FOULS: 11 (Matt Behncke 2, Marlon Rojas 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Jason Kreis 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Andy Williams 6); SAVES: 5 (D.J. Countess 5)
RSL -- Rusty Pierce (caution; Pushing, Holding) 62
Referee: Richard Heron
Referee's Assistants: -Jose Corro; David Bragg
4th Official: Gunther Haidenthaller
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.