SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake got sloppy, and the LA Galaxy were only too happy to take advantage of their mistakes Wednesday night, scoring three unanswered to run out 3-2 winners at Rio Tinto Stadium.
A pair of defensive gaffes and a terrific individual performance by Landon Donovan – who had a brace and an assist – negated a terrific start for the Western Conference leaders.
RSL began as well as any team could hope. In just the ninth minute, Chris Wingert fed Fabián Espíndola on the right flank, and the Argentine beat Todd Dunivant to the endline and sent it across the middle for Kyle Beckerman, who tapped home for the opener.
Then in the 24th minute, Espíndola played creator again, sending another ball to the middle to Álvaro Saborío. The Costa Rican just a piece of the cross, sending it bouncing up in the air a couple or times and to the lower-left corner of the net.
Then the tables turned. RSL defender Tony Beltran, deep in his own third, tried to send a pass back to ‘keeper Nick Rimando six minutes later. Donovan, however, saw the pass coming and rushed to intercept the ball and deposited it unopposed after beating Rimando.
It was only a sign of things to come. Real's giving mood continued just five minutes into the second half, with Jámison Olave giving the ball away to Donovan about 30 yards from goal. The Galaxy captain hit a perfect through-ball to Mike Magee, who took a touch and hit a brilliant, left-foot strike to the right corner that caromed off the inside of the post.
RSL looked to press and regain their lead, but LA caught them with too much space in the back in the 68th. Magee sent a ball from the left over the top toward Donovan, who beat an onrushing Rimando to ball, took one touch past and calmly booted it into the open net for the 3-2 lead.
Real threw everything it had for the remaining time, but the Galaxy defense and keeper Josh Saunders came up huge time and time again, holding on to the final whistle and grabbing the road win.
The Galaxy improve to 5-8-2 after winning their second straight and return home to host Vancouver on Saturday.
RSL, meanwhile, fall to 10-4-2 and saw their lead on second-place San Jose reduced to just two points ahead of Saturday’s home clash with the Earthquakes.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Landon Donovan||Brace and an assist marked arguably his best performance of season. LD showed no signs of fatigue from his three weeks with USMNT.|
|2||Mike Magee||Added life on the left side and was Donovan's partner in crime in happily accepting RSL's defensive mistakes.|
|3||Fabián Espíndola||Can't do much more than Espi's been doing over past two games; followed up his brace vs. Chivas with two helpers against LA's other team in defeat.|