Paulo Nagamura scored his third goal of the season as Chivas USA beat Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
The win improved Chivas USA's record to 7-1-1 as the Red-and-White became the first MLS team to break the 20-point mark on the season.
Chivas USA also picked up their sixth shutout of the season as goalkeeper Zach Thornton has earned all six of them. He made three saves Saturday, including a diving stop of Javier Morales midway through the second half.
Real Salt Lake is still winless and goalless on the road this season, outscored 7-0 in four losses away from Rio Tinto Stadium.
Sacha Kljestan picked up a yellow card in the 25th minute when he slid into Real Salt Lake 'keeper Chris Seitz. Bojan Stepanovic sent a through ball to the top of the penalty area and both Kljestan and Seitz went for the ball. Kljestan slid toward the ball but caught Seitz in the face with his cleats and was booked for the action. The yellow card was costly as Kljestan will now miss next week's match against D.C. United for yellow card accumulation.
Real Salt Lake's Jamison Olave was booked in the 32nd minute after he fouled Chivas USA's Justin Braun. Olave flung his arms in protest towards referee Hilario Grajeda and immediately saw yellow.
In the 35th minute, Chivas USA's Eduardo Lillingston had a moment to shoot at the goal as Kljestan found him at the top of the penalty area, but Lillingston took too much time to shoot and lost the ball entirely.
RSL's Will Johnson had an open look on goal as he got to a loose ball near the top of the six-yard box but Braun cleared his attempt away.
Chivas USA nearly scored in the 41st minute but Braun failed to get to a loose ball. Mariano Trujillo crossed the ball to the front of the goal from the right flank. Seitz tried to grab the ball but could not get hold of it. Braun ran toward the ball but Nat Borchers slid and cleared the ball before Braun had a chance to send an attempt on an empty net.
Lillingston picked up Chivas USA's second yellow card of the match after he flattened Javier Morales in the middle of the field.
Chivas USA finally broke through early in the second half as Nagamura did the honors. Lillingston sent a cross into the box from the right side of the field. RSL's Kyle Beckerman got to the ball first but simply pushed it along to the far side of the box.
Kljestan got a head to it and sent it back to the front of the penalty area and Nagamura raced onto the ball and fired a first-time shot into the back of the goal. Nagamura's goal was his third of the season.
Chivas USA head coach Preki went to the bench for the first time when he replaced Stepanovic with Maykel Galindo in the 58th minute.
Thornton did well to keep Real Salt Lake off the scoreboard. Morales had a look at goal from 12 yards out in the 64th minute but Thornton extended and parried the ball away.
Galindo showed some danger late in the game but was a bit unlucky with his opportunities. He was on the end of a couple of near breakaways that came to nothing, then finally broke through alone on Seitz. But the RSL 'keeper came off his line quickly to snuff out the threat.
Ultimately, though, it mattered little as RSL could not solve MLS' toughest defense. It was third consecutive shutout for Chivas, who have allowed just three goals in nine games on the season.
Chivas USA remain at home next weekend, taking on Eastern Conference leader D.C. United at The Home Depot Center on Saturday. Real Salt Lake return home to take on the Kansas City Wizards, also on Saturday.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com.