In typical fashion, Real Salt Lake (7-3-3) made the game a little more difficult than it needed to be. First, New England (3-6-0) took an unexpected lead early in the first half, only to see Salt Lake tie the score on the first of two goals by Alvaro Saborio.
Then, the 18,219 spectators at Rio Tinto Stadium were barely settled after celebrating Saborio's second goal, coming in the 55th minute, when Will Johnson was sent off with a red card for a hard foul on Clyde Simms in the 59th.
"I'd like to coach a game here at home where I get to relax a little bit more," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I told the guys that at some point I'd hope we get a game or two this year when I get to sit on the bench and be quiet in the second half and just enjoy the show. But it hasn't been that way so far.
"The last two matches here have kind of been helter skelter and hectic and the end of it all we got the points we wanted, so we're pleased with that."
Fortunately for RSL, New England also picked up a red card, in a controversial decision against Fernando Cardenas by referee David Gantar.
Between the two red cards, the game came down to Rimando's reactions. Prior to the 71st minute, Rimando spent much of the evening watching his counterpart, Matt Reis, save shot after shot.
Saborio was unfortunate not to secure his hat trick or more.
"You have to credit him for that," Saborio said. "But we won the game, and that is the important thing."
Although outplayed for much of the game, New England had its moments, including the short-lived go-ahead score by Blake Brettschneider in the 22nd minute.
Brettschnieder took a pass just outside the RSL 18, dribbled toward the middle and let loose his scoring volley.
"It was completely against the run of play," Kreis said.
As for the game-winner, Saborio converted a header for his second goal of the match. He found space in the pack as Javier Morales floated a free kick toward the goal from about 30 yards out.
In the 71st minute, Cardenas ripped a shot that Rimando barely got a hand on. During the ensuing corner kick, Brettschnieder sent a would-be equalizer toward the top of the goal mouth. Again, Rimando was equal to the challenge.
Rimando saved RSL once again in stoppage time.
"The game of soccer has a lot of missed chances," Kreis said. "They were both special, special players in the match tonight. For me, Nick got us the three points. Without him in goal, we're probably waking away with one.
"At the same time, Matt Reis kept them in the game as well. Without him in the net, it would have gone 3-1 and the game would have been over."
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R Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando deflects two New England shots from close range in the 71st minute.
• Alvaro Saborio scores both RSL goals, including the game-winner on a header in the 55th minute.
• RSL moves into a tie with San Jose for first place in the MLS Western Conference.