Sandy • So much for the hot start.
Missing its chances and catching a bad break that led to the game's only goal, Real Salt Lake suffered something it never wants to endure a home loss, and to the last-place team in the Major League Soccer Western Conference, no less.
Rookie Casey Townsend poked home a ball knocked loose in a collision with RSL's Nick Rimando and Chris Schuler in the 72nd minute, and Chivas USA made it stand up in a 1-0 victory over RSL at sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night to snap a five-game winless streak against their former expansion rivals.
"Obviously, that's a game that worst-case scenario you'd like to walk out of here with a 0-0 tie," RSL's Ned Grabavoy said. "So to drop points at home is disappointing, always."
The Goats had not scored in back-to-back home losses to start the season, but they rode a gritty effort and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to the victory, surviving a half-dozen strong scoring chances for RSL.
Alvaro Saborio skipped a shot off the top of the crossbar on a half-chip from distance in the 85th minute, for example, and Kennedy made a fantastic diving stop on Fabian Espindola in extra time, to match one earlier in the game.
RSL also had an apparent goal disallowed in the 10th minute, when referee Mark Kadlecik ruled that players broke before his whistle on the free kick that led to the goal.
"We fought," Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. "We battled. … To win in any league, you have to be able to win some games that aren't necessarily pretty. It's about guts and grit, and this was one of those games for us."
Predictably, the Goats came out with a defensive 4-5-1 formation, but they did not totally bunker down until the closing stages.
Still, RSL coach Jason Kreis said he "didn't really think they caused us any problems. … We created a ton of chances. We had the majority of the possession, we were the more attacking-minded team, we were the more dangerous team. On a different night, we win that game by multiple goals."
Alas, on this night, in front of 20,415 fans the fourth-largest crowd in stadium history the game was left to turn on the fluke play in the RSL box.
Rimando had a bead on an incoming cross, but he lost hold of the ball when he collided in midair with Schuler and Townsend. The Chivas forward said he "instinctively kind of swung my foot at it, and it went in."
"Next time around, maybe I punch it," Rimando said, "instead of going up" to catch the ball.
RSL had not lost to the Goats in nearly three years, and never before at Rio Tinto Stadium, which opened at the end of the 2008 season.
"We got a lot of chances to score a goal," RSL's Javier Morales said. "Then, they just have one, and they take it, you know? That's soccer."
Storylines Chivas USA 1, RSL 0
R IN SHORT • Real Salt Lake suffers its first loss to Chivas USA in nearly three years, and its first-ever against the Goats at Rio Tinto Stadium.
KEY STAT • RSL had 13 shots, but coaxed none of them into the net.
KEY MOMENT • Casey Townsend pounces on a loose ball after a collision with RSL's Nick Rimando to score the only goal of the game in the 72nd minute.