SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake remained unbeaten at home as they topped Chivas USA 1-0 on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium behind Javier Morales' first goal of the season.
RSL (3-3-2, 11 points), opening the first of a three-game home stand, moved to second place in the Western Conference, overtaking Chivas USA (3-3-1, 10 points), who suffered their second consecutive loss.
The opening minutes belonged to RSL, as their possession-oriented attack was finding open spaces through the middle of the field. Chivas, employing their high-risk, high-reward style of play, were getting spaced out in the midfield, favoring the home side.
Fresh off his first career MLS goal last week against Vancouver, Olmes García took advantage of his first career start. Time after time the ball was sent over the top and he would run it down to set up the offense. He had a shot that deflected off the crossbar in the sixth minute and was an overall headache for the Goats.
If García wasn't the top star of the half, that honor would certainly go to the goalkeepers — Dan Kennedy of Chivas and Nick Rimando of Real. Kennedy was tested often, saving a Luis Gil one-on-one shot and an Álvaro Saborío effort. Meanwhile, Rimando had one more save on the night than his counterpart, and that additional save was another in his long list of career highlights.
Off a Chivas corner kick in the 35th minute, the ball deflected toward net and hit the arm of Ned Grabavoy in the box. Referee Jorge Gonzalez immediately pointed to the spot, and the call looked quite controversial, and Real Salt Lake were aggrieved to concede a second penalty in two matches. But the MLS all-time leader in penalty kick saves, Rimando, was up to the task as he parried away Edgar Mejía's shot headed toward the right side of the net for his 18th career penalty save. For Chivas, it was their second unconverted penalty in as many matches.
In first-half stoppage time, Carlos Alvarez nearly put the visitors ahead as following yet another dangerous corner kick from the Goats, he broke in from the left side after the ball was sent back in. His left-foot blast sailed just wide of the back post.
Chivas came out with a renewed intensity to beging the second half, but as their shot total increased, so did Rimando's save total. Julio Morales hit a sharp shot just outside the box in the 52nd minute, but Rimando was able to save the chance.
After another García shot hit off the crossbar, Real finally hit pay-dirt in the 53rd minute. García hit a ball forward into the right side of the box to Saborío, who deftly chipped the ball to the middle. Morales timed his run perfectly and headed the ball to the bottom-left corner of the net for his first goal since September 2012.
Real finished off the game, giving Chivas only a couple more scoring opportunities, while keeping possession for long stints, but failing to capitalize on a few quality scoring chances of their own.
Controversy will certainly emerge from this match for Chivas. Head coach José Luis "Chelís" Sánchez Solá began arguing with Javier Morales, presumably for exiting the field slowly on a substitution, which escalated to an argument with RSL coach Jason Kreis. Chelís and his staff reportedly exited the field before the final whistle, while Mejía received a red card during stoppage time for a forearm to Ned Grabavoy to only add insult to the Chivas loss.
Real Salt Lake remain home to face the defending champion LA Galaxy on April 27, while Chivas USA return home for a match against the defending Supporters' Shield winners San Jose.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Nick Rimando||Fully earned his keep on the night, and his penalty save gave RSL full share of the points|
|2||Javier Morales||Played his way into the game, but he was RSL's best outfield player in the 2nd half, as he scored winner and could have had two more|
|3||Dan Kennedy||Kennedy made four saves, and they were crucial to keeping Chivas USA in the match for 90 minutes.|