The Los Angeles Galaxy saw their four-game winning streak come to a crashing halt as second-half goals from Eddie Pope and Jason Kreis overcame an early lead to give Real Salt Lake their second win in club history, a 2-1 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night.
Jovan Kirovski had given the Galaxy the lead just before halftime as they looked to win on the road for the first time this season, and the first time since June of last year. But the expansion side rode the goalkeeping of Jay Nolly -- making his MLS debut -- and the experience of their veterans for an impressive win.
From the outset, the Galaxy looked to challenge Nolly, the draft pick out of Indiana University who was a stand-in for D.J. Countess, who had started every match before injuring a shoulder last week. But it was good fortune that saved the Real 'keeper early on.
In the 12th minute Kirovski and Landon Donovan worked a couple quick passes to spring Donovan down the right side. After pulling Nolly off his line, Donovan found a streaking Peter Vagenas in front of the unguarded goal, but somehow he squandered his chance and failed to direct the ball goalward before a recovering RSL defender cleared it away.
Only two minutes later the visitors had another golden opportunity as Kirovski beat Rusty Pierce on the right. After a long run with only Nolly to beat, Kirovski rolled his chance on the wrong side of the far post.
But Kirovski would not be denied on his second chance at goal. Chris Albright swung in a cross from the right that Nolly dove out to stop, but could barely deflect it. The ball fell to Vagenas, again in the six, and he somehow slipped it to Kirovski who buried it for his second goal of the year.
Luck turned to the home side just after the intermission. On a corner served by Andy Williams, Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant flicked a ball across his own net to a waiting Pope. The veteran U.S. international defender punched in the goal to pull Real level, the first for his new club.
The Galaxy kept on the pressure looking for their second goal. After an impressive run in the 55th minute, Donovan sent his chance just wide. Only a minute later Nolly came up big by beating Ramirez to a dangerous 50-50 ball, just before he denied Donovan again.
Real then took the lead in the 65th minute. From his own half, Mathis sent a perfectly weighted pass over the Galaxy defense for a streaking Jason Kreis. The RSL striker raced in to collect in the penalty area, sidefooting a lovely chip past Kevin Hartman for his 95th career goal.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson played his trump cards in the final minutes, bringing on Mubarike Chisoni and Naldo da Conceicao, but Nolly hung tough. The rookie goalkeeper recorded nine saves on the night and the powerful Galaxy attack was held to the single goal by the expansion side, losing for just the second time this season.
The Galaxy return home to The Home Depot Center next Saturday, where they will take on the San Jose Earthquakes in the original "California Clasico" (7 p.m. PT). Real Salt Lake will take on Chivas USA in the return match of their expansion rivalry on Wednesday at home (7:30 p.m. MT).
MLS Man of the Match: Jay Nolly (Real Salt Lake)
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (4-2-0) vs. Real Salt Lake (2-3-2)
May 14, 2005 -- Rice-Eccles Stadium
LA -- Jovan Kirovski 2 (unassisted) 39
RSL -- Eddie Pope 1 (unassisted) 49
RSL -- Jason Kreis 4 (Clint Mathis 3) 65
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones, Paulo Nagamura (Mubarike Chisoni 78), Peter Vagenas (Ednaldo da Conceicao 69), Guillermo Ramirez, Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Pablo Chinchilla, Steve Cronin, Michael Umana.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Jovan Kirovski 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Guillermo Ramirez 4); FOULS: 17 (Ugo Ihemelu 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Ednaldo da Conceicao 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Landon Donovan 5); SAVES: 5 (Kevin Hartman 5)
Real Salt Lake -- Jay Nolly, Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown (Evan Whitfield 89), Brian Kamler (Seth Trembly 84), Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Marlon Rojas 77), Jason Kreis.
Substitutes Not Used: Clint Baumstark, Matt Behncke, Luke Kreamalmeyer, Leighton O'Brien, Dipsy Selolwane, Jamie Watson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Jason Kreis 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Leslie Fitzpatrick 2, Jason Kreis 2); FOULS: 10 (Andy Williams 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Jason Kreis 2); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Andy Williams 5); SAVES: 9 (Jay Nolly 9)
RSL -- Jason Kreis (caution; Diving, Exaggeration) 25
LA -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; Dissent) 64
RSL -- Nelson Akwari (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
LA -- Ednaldo da Conceicao (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Feliciano Palomino
Time of Game: 1:50
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.