CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy dominated from start to finish in their opener Saturday night against visiting Real Salt Lake, but they couldn't turn repeated opportunities into goals and were stuck with a frustrating 1-0 defeat at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy took 27 shots, created at least a dozen good scoring chances, but couldn't find a way past Nick Rimando, who made nine saves – most of them somewhere between really fine and amazing – and secured for RSL three points with a diving save on Robbie Keane's stoppage-time penalty kick.
“Soccer's a cruel game sometimes,” noted Landon Donovan, who was stuffed one-on-one by Rimando near the end of the first half. “We get judged on results, so I think we can be happy with how we played, but at the end of the day, we have to score.
"We had too many chances to score, and that puts our backline under a lot of pressure when we don't finish our opportunities. We have to be better going forward.”
Keane and Samuel had multiple first-half opportunities and Marcelo Sarvas, Leonardo and Stefan Ishizaki, twice, tested the RSL goalkeeper after the break. Keane stepped up in the 93rd minute with a chance to snare a point, but Rimando read him perfectly.
It was the early chances Keane fretted over. He half-volleyed over the net, hit the right post in the 34th minute, then nearly created a sure-thing goal for Donovan.
“Missed opportunities in the first half certainly cost us the game,” Keane told reporters. “There's no question about that. I think the chances that we had could have killed the game off, but we didn't and we let them back into the game.”
Donovan said the Galaxy went to their locker room “at halftime wondering how we're not ahead, and the next thing you know, it's the 80th minute and we're down a goal and chasing the game. It's hard to understand how that can happen, but that's the way it is, and when you don't finish your chances, you get punished sometimes.”
Joao Plata was open in the middle of the box to finish a Kyle Beckerman feed in the 80th minute, just four minutes after Luke Mulholland was denied a goal by a questionable offside flag. When Rob Friend drew a stoppage-time penalty for LA, it appeared the points would be shared.
“When you see Robbie stepping up to take it, you think it's a for-sure goal,” Omar Gonzalez told reporters. “But we've faced Nick Rimando in penalty kicks before, and we all know how good he is. He did well to save it, and that's the way our night went.”
Only 41 of 61 regular-season penalty kicks Rimando has faced have hit the net, and he's stopped most of the 20 that haven't.
“I think he's the best goalkeeper in the league at saving penalties,” Donovan said. “He reads the game well and he reads body language well, and he did a great job. He's saved a couple of mine in the past.”
It wouldn't have meant a thing had LA done what they should have in the first 45.
“We had some good chances, we did not finish any of our chances, and the penalty at the end of the game,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said in the postgame press conference. “What can you say? Those are wasted chances. We should have gotten at least a point out of this game.”