CARSON, Calif. – A brace from Fabian Espindola and a stoppage time goal by Will Johnson extended Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak to seven games as they posted a 3-0 win over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday evening.
The defeat snapped the Rojiblancos' six-game winning streak in all competitions and kept RSL on top of the West at 32 points (10-3-2). Chivas, meanwhile, fell to 4-7-3 on the season.
Throughout a high energy – and highly physical – first half, both clubs struggled to generate scoring chances as the match became a possession battle in the middle of the park.
Although Chivas held most of the possession early, the best scoring chance belonged to RSL. The opportunity came in the 35th minute, when Alvaro Saborio’s goal was negated due to a very tight offside call.
RSL wouldn't have to wait long for their goal, though. Midfielder Jonny Steele intercepted a Dan Kennedy pass intended for Ante Jazic and found Kyle Beckerman, who put a 35-yard pass right onto Espindola's head after the he slipped past the Chivas defense. The Argentine made no mistake with the chance, putting it well past Dan Kennedy.
Espindola added another in the 54th minute after a Ned Grabavoy through-ball found the Argentine in stride. Espindola then blew past Rauwshan McKenzie before slotting the shot past Kennedy for his second tally of the night and sixth on the season.
Three minutes later, RSL nearly struck again as a turnover by Oswaldo Minda set Alvaro Saborio free on goal. Kennedy, however, forced the Costa Rican into a heavy first touch that negated the opportunity.
Despite the two-goal lead, RSL head coach Jason Kreis brought on midfielder Javier Morales for defender Jamison Olave in the 61st minute, allowing the influential Argentine his first appearance since suffering a right quadriceps strain on May 9.
As the minutes ticked down, the Rojiblancos threw numbers forward after midfielder Ryan Smith and Cesar Romero were brought on for Blair Gavin and Oswaldo Minda, respectively. Chivas nearly cut the lead in half when a Juan Agudelo header forced a diving one-handed save from RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
RSL added a third late when Johnson – in his first match back from international duty with Canada – notched his first goal of the season. A clever move from Beckerman and Morales allowed him plenty of space in the area to finish easily.
Both teams will return to action this Wednesday as RSL returns to Rio Tinto Stadium to host the LA Galaxy while the Goats host the Montreal Impact.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Fabian Espindola||Argentine's brace was the highlight of the night. Tormented the Chivas defense with his pace and had two good finishes to boot.|
|2||Kyle Beckerman||Back from international duty, showed no signs of fatigue as he bossed the midfield and set up two of his team's three goals.|
|3||Ned Grabavoy||An active performer, who defended capably and had a fine through pass to set up Espindola's second.|