Real Salt Lake recorded the most impressive victory of their young history on Saturday night, getting a pair of second-half goals for a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Jovan Kirovski gave Los Angeles the lead just before the halftime break, but Eddie Pope and Jason Kreis scored in the second half to put an end to four-game winning streak of the Western Conference leaders.
Real Lake came out like they had something to prove against the Galaxy, showing the hustle they lacked in a 1-0 loss against Chivas USA last weekend. Running to loose balls and challenging the Galaxy for possession allowed Real to hold the ball well early.
But it as the Galaxy who offered the first real scare of the game in the 12th minute when Landon Donovan got behind the RSL defense. In an effort to recover the RSL defense pulled wide -- including 'keeper Jay Nolly -- allowing Donovan to play the ball off to Peter Vagenas in front of an open net. What seemed like a sure goal faded fast as Vagenas got the ball tangled in his feet, allowing a hard-charging defender to clear.
Again in the 14th minute the Galaxy looked poised to score again as Jovan Kirovski beat Rusty Pierce on the Real right, giving him a clear path to the goal. Kirovski unloaded a shot but saw it scream just wide of the far post, as Nolly came off his line on the challenge.
RSL had its first real threat in the 25th minute when Kreis looked like he had a step on the defense and then crashed to the ground a couple yards inside the penalty box. But referee Alex Prus showed Kreis a yellow card for embellishment instead of awarding the penalty kick.
RSL got its first solid scoring opportunity in the 35th minute when Chris Brown took the ball into the corner before dropping the ball back to Clint Mathis at the top corner of the 18 yard box. Mathis immediately laid the ball off to Leslie Fitzpatrick, but was able to get off only a weak shot, which was scooped up by Kevin Hartman.
Dangerous all half long, the Galaxy finally struck in the 40th minute. Right back Chris Albright drove in a low cross from the right flank, but a diving Nolly was able to get a hand to it. It fell to Peter Vagenas, who somehow pushed it sideways where Kirovski was waiting and he tapped it in to the empty goal.
Coming out of the locker room for the second half, RSL showed a renewed sense of purpose. Mathis showed the form that many remember from his younger years as he made a run into the box, beating two Galaxy defenders before cracking off a shot. But Hartman was on the end of it for an easy save.
However, it wasn't long before RSL got on the board. In the 49th minute, Andy Williams played a corner from the right which was met by Todd Dunivant at the near post. But the ball skidded off the top of Dunivant's head into the mixer where Pope came driving in to poke the chest-high ball squarely into the back of the net.
With the score leveled, the Galaxy unleashed a brief flurry. After getting behind the defense in the 55th minute, Donovan looked sure to put the visitors back in front when he beat Nolly far post, but the ball skidded just wide. Barely a minute later, Nolly again came up big when he snagged a shot by Ramirez. Then Donovan got off another shot despite being well defended, forcing Nolly to make another save.
After the display by the rookie goalkeeper -- making his professional debut, in place of the injured D.J, Countess - RSL regained control of the game. And in the 65th minute Mathis put a perfectly placed long pass over the Galaxy defense for Kreis to run out. He met the ball in the Galaxy penalty area and easily chipped the ball first-time over Galaxy 'keeper Hartman for his 95th career goal, giving RSL the advantage.
Nolly was called upon to make a couple more saves over the final minutes, but Real held out for a quality victory.
MLS Man of the Match: Jay Nolly (Real Salt Lake)
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (4-2-0) vs. Real Salt Lake (2-3-2)
May 14, 2005 -- Rice-Eccles Stadium
LA -- Jovan Kirovski 2 (unassisted) 39
RSL -- Eddie Pope 1 (unassisted) 49
RSL -- Jason Kreis 4 (Clint Mathis 3) 65
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones, Paulo Nagamura (Mubarike Chisoni 78), Peter Vagenas (Ednaldo da Conceicao 69), Guillermo Ramirez, Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Pablo Chinchilla, Steve Cronin, Michael Umana.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Jovan Kirovski 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Guillermo Ramirez 4); FOULS: 17 (Ugo Ihemelu 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Ednaldo da Conceicao 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Landon Donovan 5); SAVES: 5 (Kevin Hartman 5)
Real Salt Lake -- Jay Nolly, Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown (Evan Whitfield 89), Brian Kamler (Seth Trembly 84), Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Marlon Rojas 77), Jason Kreis.
Substitutes Not Used: Clint Baumstark, Matt Behncke, Luke Kreamalmeyer, Leighton O'Brien, Dipsy Selolwane, Jamie Watson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Jason Kreis 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Leslie Fitzpatrick 2, Jason Kreis 2); FOULS: 10 (Andy Williams 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Jason Kreis 2); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Andy Williams 5); SAVES: 9 (Jay Nolly 9)
RSL -- Jason Kreis (caution; Diving, Exaggeration) 25
LA -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; Dissent) 64
RSL -- Nelson Akwari (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
LA -- Ednaldo da Conceicao (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Feliciano Palomino
Time of Game: 1:50
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.