April 21, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Real Salt Lake
SANDY, Utah - Real Salt Lake (3-3-2, 11 points, West #2) started its three-game home stand on the right foot on Saturday night, getting a goal from MF Javier Morales to beat Chivas USA (3-3-1, 10 points, West #3) 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Morales scored the game's lone goal in the 53rd minute, heading a FW Alvaro Saborio cross inside the far post from just inside the penalty spot. RSL GK Nick Rimando continued his strong start to the season on Saturday night, stopping a penalty kick in the first half and making five saves total to register his second clean sheet of the season.
RSL came out of the gates firing, nearly going ahead in the sixth minute when FW Olmes Garcia hit the crossbar. The 20-year-old Colombian - who was making his first MLS start - hit a shot from just outside the 18 that deflected off of a defender, sailed over Chivas GK Dan Kennedy and bounced off the bar.
Garcia was at the heart of another chance just a minute later, collecting Morales's through ball on the right wing before crossing to open MF Ned Grabavoy at the back post for a header that missed the frame.
RSL had two more good looks in the 15th and 16th minutes. Saborio had the first chance, collecting a Morales ball in the left side of the area before sending a chip shot over Kennedy and wide of the far post. Kennedy made a big stop on RSL MF Luis Gil one minute later; diving to the ground to block the U.S. Under-20 international's sliding 15-yarder.
The Claret-and-Cobalt had another great look in the 32nd minute. Garcia created the chance, getting behind the Chivas defense on the left side before squaring a ball to Saborio at the top of the box. The Costa Rican international quickly hit a shot toward goal, only for it to be blocked by sliding Chivas USA DF Mario de Luna.
The game turned in the 34th minute, when referee Jorge Gonzales whistled Grabavoy for a handball inside the box, giving Chivas USA a penalty kick. As he's so done has over the years, Rimando saved the day for RSL, reading Chivas USA MF Edgar Mejia like a book before diving to his left to block the spot kick. RSL's defense stood strong in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, blocking no less than three shots from inside eight yards to turn Chivas away.
The Goats had another good look in first half stoppage time. Rookie MF Carlos Alvarez picked up a ball in the left side of the box, rifling a low shot from 15 yards inches wide of the far post.
Like the team did in the first half, RSL came out of the break firing, with Garcia hitting the crossbar for a second time in the 52nd minute. Garcia blazed past Chivas USA DF Bobby Burling to collect a long, bouncing ball in the right side of the box before chipping a 12-yard effort over Kennedy's outstretched arms and off the bar near the far post.
RSL finally found pay dirt in the 53rd minute. Morales started the play, picking up a loose ball near midfield and quickly finding a teammate. The ball eventually made its way to Garcia, who found Saborio in the right side of the area with a neat through ball. Saborio squared up and crossed to the open Morales just inside the penalty spot, allowing the Argentine playmaker - so often the RSL player delivering crosses - to head home inside the left bar.
Morales nearly doubled RSL's advantage 10 minutes later, collecting a lay off from Gil outside the 18 on the right side and chipping a curler that glanced off the top of the far post.
Saborio and Morales had a chance each in the 87th and 88th minutes. Saborio had the first opportunity, running onto Morales's through ball in the middle of the attacking third before rolling a shot just wide of the left post from a yard outside the box. Morales forced Kennedy into a fine save one minute later, curling a 25-yard free kick toward the top left corner that the Chivas 'keeper tipped over the bar.
Chivas went down to 10 men when Mejia was shown a straight red card for an off the ball foul on Grabavoy in second half stoppage time.
RSL will return to action on Monday night, when it will host USL Pro club Phoenix FC at Rio Tinto Stadium in MLS Reserve League action. Tickets to Monday's Phoenix FC match - part of this year's groundbreaking partnership between MLS and USL Pro - are $8 for RSL Pride Season Ticket Holders and $12 for the general public. Fans can purchase tickets to the game at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at http://www.riotintostadium.com/events/rsl-v-phoenixfc.php or over the phone at 801-727-2700. RSL's next MLS match is next Saturday, April 27 against Western Conference rival LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium. Fans can purchase tickets to the LA match at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.