Real Salt Lake got a goal from FW Kenny Deuchar in his first start for the Utah side, but it wasn't enough to combat scores from former RSL strikers Atiba Harris and Alecko Eskandarian, whose second half goals provided the go-ahead and insurance tallies, respectively, in a 3-1 defeat at The Home Depot Center. While Real Salt Lake controlled long stretches of the match, it was a goal by Chivas USA MF Sacha Kljestan just after the half-hour mark that turned the tide of the contest, allowing the home side to press the issue in the decisive middle third of the match that also included Harris's goal in the 55th minute.
In a battle of two teams wanting to stake their claim through possession, RSL more than held its own in the opening half hour and provided some anxious moments - notably headers off corner kicks from central defenders Nat Borchers and Matías Mantilla in the first dozen minutes and a Kyle Beckerman shot from distance in the 14th minute - but failed to get anything on frame. Meanwhile, Chivas USA found the bulk of their chances by attacking down the right flank, but only a header by DF Chris Pozniak off a free kick in the 9th minute and a counter-attack chance by FW Maykel Galindo off a midfield turnover in the 24th minute would force a save out of RSL GK Nick Rimando in the opening half hour.
RSL would not be so lucky in the 32nd minute, as this time an RSL giveaway would be converted into a scoring opportunity when Galindo gathered the ball and raced up the middle of the field. With the RSL backline disjointed, the Cuban striker played a well-weighted diagonal ball towards the top of the area for Kljestan, who poked a low shot past a charging Rimando and into an open goal to put the home side up 1-0. Four minutes later, RSL's best chance of the half came when FW Robbie Findley beat his defender to the endline and slotted a low cross into the six-yard box that took a deflection just as Deuchar stabbed at the ball, forcing him to send the shot over the crossbar from just three yards out.
The second half started ominously for the visitors in the 49th minute, when Harris nearly beat his old teammates with a redirection from eight yards out that went directly to Rimando. Six minutes later Harris would hit paydirt off a quick build-up, with Chivas USA MF Francisco Mendoza starting the play with a darting run up the middle of the park before slotting a through ball into the right side of the area for Kljestan. The young midfielder had time and space to play a low cross into the mixer, and Harris held his defender off and slid in to redirect the cross past Rimando from five yards out to double the Chivas USA advantage to 2-0.
But the two-goal lead would be short-lived, as Deuchar cashed in for his first goal in an RSL uniform less than two minutes later, the Scotsman rising high at the top of the six to nod home MF Javier Morales's free kick from the left flank to cut the lead to 2-1. The goal led to a steady onslaught into the final third for the visitors over the last half hour, but it was a mistake from Chivas USA that nearly helped RSL equalize the match in the 63rd minute. Just minutes after entering the match, Pasadena native FW Yura Movsisyan nodded a poor clearance back towards an apparently open net from 12 yards out, only to see diving Chivas USA GK Brad Guzan recover just in time bat the ball wide of his right post. Two minutes later it was Morales nearly finishing off DF Chris Wingert's cross into the box, but the Argentine playmaker buried his head in his hands after sending a header from nine yards over the crossbar.
Movsisyan would create danger again in the 74th minute when his cross from the right flank slipped through the area, but the pass was deflected just enough to avoid a darting MF Kyle Beckerman at the far left post. RSL's final shot at an equalizer would come in the 88th minute when Deuchar saw his attempt saved by Guzan, and Rimando was equal to the challenge on the other end, saving MF Paolo Nagamura's breakaway attempt to keep RSL within one. But the home side kept up the pressure in game's waning moments, with a bending Kljestan attempt in the 90th minute just missing before Eskandarian would bury his old side three minutes into stoppage time on another break-out, the striker touching the ball around Rimando at the arc before trotting in and slamming the ball emphatically into goal to put the result out of question.
The weekend is not yet through for the MLS expansion "Class of 2005," as the two sides will duel in MLS Reserve Division play Sunday morning at The Home Depot Center (11:00 a.m. MT/10:00 a.m. local). The match will mark the 2008 opener for the RSL Reserves, while their counterparts from Chivas USA enter the match with a point after drawing FC Dallas in their Reserve Division opener last weekend in Texas.
Chivas USA 3 : 1 Real Salt Lake
Saturday, April 5, 2008
The Home Depot Center - Carson, Calif.
CHV - Sacha Kljestan 1 (Maykel Galindo 1, Francisco Mendoza 1)
CHV - Atiba Harris 1 (Sacha Kljestan 1, Francisco Mendoza 2)
RSL - Kenny Deuchar 1 (Javier Morales 1)
CHV - Alecko Eskandarian 1 (Raphael Wicky 1) 93+
RSL - Dema Kovalenko (caution, Reckless Foul) 8
CHV - Atiba Harris (caution, Reckless Foul) 45
RSL - Fabian Espíndola (caution, Dissent) 91+
Real Salt Lake Line-up (4-4-2): GK-Nick Rimando; DF-Chris Wingert, DF-Matías Mantilla, DF-Nat Borchers, DF-Ian Joy (Fabian Espíndola 73); MF-Dema Kovalenko, MF-Carey Talley (Captain) (Andy Williams 64); MF-Javier Morales, MF-Kyle Beckerman, FW-Robbie Findley (Yura Movsisyan 60), FW-Kenny Deuchar
SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; SAVES: 5; FOULS: 9; CORNER KICKS: 5; OFFSIDE: 4
Chivas USA Line-up (4-4-2): GK-Brad Guzan, DF-Chris Pozniak (Eric Ebert 80), DF-Jim Curtin, DF-Shavar Thomas, DF-Jonathan Bornstein, MF-Sacha Kljestan, MF-Jesse Marsch (Captain), MF-Paolo Nagamura, MF-Francisco Mendoza, FW-Atiba Harris (Raphael Wicky 69), FW-Maykel Galindo (Alecko Eskandarian 77)
SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 8; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 17; CORNER KICKS: 1; OFFSIDES: 2
Referee: Tim Weyland
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Paul Scott
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 55 degrees