SANDY, Utah — The third time was the charm for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night as they beat last-place Chivas USA 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium and kept alive their hopes of avoiding the Western Conference Knockout-Round game next week.
On the strength of Alvaro Saborio's penalty kick in the 36th minute and Kyle Beckerman's insurance goal in the 74th minute, RSL did two things they haven’t been able to do in two previous games against the Goats this season: First, score. Second, win.
The win moved Real Salt Lake (15-8-11, 56 points) past FC Dallas into third place in the Western Conference. But while the regular season is over for the Claret-and-Cobalt, they can only sit back and watch when Dallas play host to Portland on Saturday. A Dallas win will put RSL into the No. 4-vs.-No. 5 play-in game.
Despite dominating possession — 70.8 percent for the first half — and launching attack after attack, shot after shot, RSL struggled at first to get the ball past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Until the 35th minute, that is, when Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales floated a free kick into the box and — as Kennedy punched the ball away — referee Fotis Bazakos blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, ruling that Saborio had been pulled down from behind.
From there, the Costa Rican striker made it look easy. He went to Kennedy's right as the goalkeeper dove left, scoring his eighth goal of an injury-shortened season.
It was Real Salt Lake's first goal against Chivas after 216-plus minutes of play this season.
A bad situation got worse for Chivas in the 56th minute. Midfielder Marvin Chavez, frustrated after he dribbled the ball out of bounds, kicked the ball at the linesman and was immediately red carded by Bazakos.
Still, Kennedy continued to deny RSL, keeping Chivas within a goal. The Goats came close to tying it when Erick Torres came inches away from scoring in the 65th minute, but he couldn't quite catch the end of a cross from Leandro Barrera.
RSL captain Beckerman then put the game out of reach when he snuck behind the Chivas backline and took a nice pass from Joao Plata to easily bury it to put the home team up 2-0.
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando added to his all-time MLS record, recording his 115th shutout. And it was the third consecutive game in which RSL has blanked an opponent, following a 2-0 win over San Jose (recorded by backup keeper Jeff Attinella) and a scoreless draw at Portland last week.
Wednesday's win was some measure of revenge for RSL, considering two of eighth-place Chivas’ eight wins in 2014 came against the Claret and Cobalt.
Wednesday's win gave RSL a 13-12-4 advantage in the all-time, regular-season rivalry between the expansion partners who both entered MLS in 2005.
Chivas (8-19-6, 30 points) return home for their season finale Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Joao Plata||The speedy winger wrecked havoc on Chivas' defense, had a couple of perfect crosses and five shots|
|2||Kyle Beckerman||A fittingly solid performance for RSL's leader|
|3||Nat Borchers||RSL's defensive leader led a lock-down performance on Erick Torres and Chivas' attack|