Real Salt Lake's season of adversity this season had only gotten worse in recent weeks, with losses in four of their past five matches heading into Saturday's match at Chivas USA.
But early on Saturday night, it appeared that fortune was perhaps shining on the Claret-and-Cobalt when striker Álvaro Saborío's opportunistic 10th-minute goal that was reminiscent of the Costa Rican’s form from a season ago.
However, in a microcosm of this entire year for RSL, a moment of exhilaration was followed up immediately by a much lengthier stretch of anguish. In this case, the it was a 24th-minute red card shown to defender Nat Borchers, who gave Nick LaBrocca a tug as the Chivas USA midfielder got past him heading into the penalty area.
“We came out wanting to press them and get our early goal, and that’s exactly what happened,” Nick Rimando told Fox Soccer after the match. “The defenders played great, but unfortunately for us, we got a red card. But we battled the rest of the game.”
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Despite the adversity, Real Salt Lake managed to keep the clean sheet despite playing a man down for more than two-thirds of the match. The 1-0 win required a couple of huge saves from Rimando and even some quick medical attention to captain Kyle Beckerman, who received a gash on his forehead from a second-half collision with Jámison Olave that eventually required six stitches.
Yet somehow, RSL's collective effort succeeded in keeping all 12 of Chivas USA’s shot attempts out of the net. According to Rimando, everything went according to plan. Well, sort of.
“That was the objective,” he explained of the shutout. “We knew if we got a zero, we’d get a couple of chances. And if we could put those away, three points we were going to take back to Salt Lake.”
Rimando said his team didn’t panic after the Borchers ejection, and knew that backup defender Chris Schuler would be up to the challenge after his insertion in the 32nd minute.
“We knew it was going to be a hard fight,” said Rimando. “We knew that Schuler had been in there before, and we’re confident with him. Along with him the rest of the backs played great, all the way up to our forwards. Next week [at home vs. Philadelphia] is going to be a tough one, but again, Schuler can do the job. He stepped up tonight and showed that he’s capable of doing that.”