Photo by Michael Burns/isiphotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
As many expected during the pre-match buildup, Saturday evening’s clash between Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA came down to the play of the clubs’ high-caliber goalkeepers.
Kennedy made four impressive saves but was frozen on a well-placed header from RSL’s Javier Morales.
Rimando kept out all five of the shots he faced, including a first half penalty try from Edgar Mejia.
RSL found their way past Kennedy in the 53rd minute and kept their cool late to record the 1-0 home victory against fellow 2004 expansion side Chivas.
The victory served as a perfect start for a three-match homestand for road-weary Real Salt Lake, who played five of their first seven matches away from Rio Tinto Stadium.
But it was a second straight 1-0 loss for a Chivas squad that went on an impressive four-match undefeated run just a few weeks ago.
The first 15 minutes of the match featured constant scoring chances for both sides. RSL’s Olmes Garcia cracked the crossbar with a shot six minutes into Saturday’s match, and Rimando was forced to make a diving stop seconds later on the other end. RSL’s Alvaro Saborio and Chivas’s Jose Correa also saw their shots saved in the following minutes.
Once the pace of the match settled down, RSL started to take control of the possession battle. But Chivas were able to get better scoring chances in the first half, especially after RSL’s Ned Grabavoy was whistled for handball in the box off of a corner kick.
Rimando’s penalty save, the 18th of his career, fell right back to Mejia for a wide-open rebound. The RSL defense quickly charged to block the Goats’ follow-up attempts to keep the match scoreless.
Just like in the opening 45 minutes, the first few minutes of the second half were marked by back-and-forth offensive action. RSL took advantage of a bad Chivas turnover seven minutes in, and a quick passing sequence by Garcia and Saborio led to a looping cross that found the head of Morales for the goal.
Rimando and the RSL defense kept out a pesky Chivas offense determined to grab an equalizer. Even though Kennedy kept the visitors in the match with a few more saves in the second half, they became increasingly frustrated with their offensive chances as the clocked neared the 90th minute.
The match came to a bizarre end when Chivas head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola got into a war of words with Morales, who was making his way off the field for Khari Stephenson in stoppage time. “El Chelis” and the rest of his coaching staff left the field after the fourth official stepped in to end the argument that soon featured RSL head coach Jason Kreis.
The coaches were soon joined by Meija, who received a straight red seconds later for hitting Grabavoy in the face with his forearm. Although they were without a coach and one of their starters, Chivas created one more chance in the dying moments, but Bobby Burling’s header flew just high of Rimando’s goal.
Both teams will have home matches next Saturday. RSL will welcome defending champions Los Angeles to Rio Tinto Stadium while Chivas return to The Home Depot Center to face defending Supporters Shield winners San Jose.
Here are the match highlights: