SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (16-10-8, 56 points, West #1) closed the 2013 MLS regular season in style on Wednesday night, getting two goals early in the second half to down Chivas USA (6-19-8, 26 points, West #9) 2-1 in front of a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium.
FW’s Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata scored for the Claret-and-Cobalt, which now sits in first-place in both the Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference races ahead of this weekend’s final round of regular season matches. The Claret-and-Cobalt will win the Supporters’ Shield should Sporting Kansas City lose/draw at Philadelphia Union on Saturday, Portland Timbers lose/draw at Chivas on Saturday and New York Red Bulls lose at home to Chicago Fire on Sunday. RSL will finish the season atop the Western Conference should Portland lose/draw at Chivas on Saturday.
Wednesday’s win clinched a top-two West seed for RSL, meaning the Claret-and-Cobalt will play away in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3 before returning home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the West Semi second leg on Nov. 6 or Nov. 7. Real Salt Lake could still play any of the West playoff teams of Portland, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC or Colorado Rapids in the West Semifinals.
Chivas USA had the game’s first chance in the sixth minute. MF Eric Avila got behind the RSL defense on the right side, collecting the ball near the end line and cutting into the box. Avila rolled a square ball to FW Erick Torres at the top of the six, with Torres attempting to hit a shot with his first touch. Thankfully for RSL, DF Chris Schuler recovered very nicely on the play, sprinting back into position to put a sliding block on Torres’ effort.
Real Salt Lake DF Lovel Palmer went down with left hamstring strain on Torres’ chance. He was subbed out in the ninth minute for DF Tony Beltran.
The Claret-and-Cobalt had its first chance of the match in the ninth minute. MF Ned Grabavoy found Saborio streaking down the left side, with the Costa Rican international collecting the ball in the area before firing a 15-yard left-footer just wide of the far post.
Real Salt Lake GK Nick Rimando added another big save to a resume chock full of them in the 16th minute, denying Torres on a golden opportunity. Avila got behind the RSL defense on the right side, curling an early cross into the middle. Torres ran onto the ball just inside the penalty spot, heading a powerful shot toward the bottom right corner that Rimando denied with a fine reaction save. Chivas USA MF Carlos Alvarez ran onto the rebound in the left side of the area, hitting a first time shot off of a RSL player and just wide of the near post for a corner kick.
RSL had a good look in the 28th. Captain Kyle Beckerman swerved a free kick in from the right wing, finding Saborio in the left side of the box. Saborio headed a shot toward the bottom-left corner, forcing Chivas USA – and former RSL – GK Tim Melia into a fine diving stop.
Sparked by the halftime insertion of MF Javier Morales for MF Yordany Alvarez, Real Salt Lake jumped all over Chivas USA out of the break, scoring in the 49th and 52nd minutes to take a 2-0 advantage.
Saborio had the first goal, sending Melia the wrong way and rifling a penalty kick home in the right side. Plata earned the spot kick, collecting a ball at the top of the box and attempting a chipped pass to Saborio that was handled inside the box by Chivas USA DF Mario De Luna.
Plata doubled the Claret-and-Cobalt’s advantage four minutes later. He began the play, slipping Morales through in the top of the box with a gorgeous through ball. De Luna temporarily stopped the move, making a smart tackle on Morales just inside the area. Thankfully for RSL, the ball fell directly to Plata, who picked up the loose clearance at the top of the arc and curled a beautiful left-footer past Melia and inside the left post.
RSL nearly made it 3-0 in the 56th minute. Grabavoy had the opportunity, collecting a delightful Morales through ball at the top of the box and taking a touch to his right before firing a shot off of an onrushing Melia, who did well to make the save.
Grabavoy had another chance in the 67th. Beltran fed a low ball in from the right corner, with a Saborio dummy allowing Grabavoy to collect the cross in traffic on the right edge of the six. Unfortunately, Grabavoy couldn’t keep his shot on frame, whizzing a right-footed effort inches wide of the near post.
RSL had another chance in the 71st minute through substitute FW Robbie Findley. The speedy striker collected a ball on the left flank and headed to goal, hitting a low shot from the top-left corner of the box that Melia only just pawed around the far post.
Schuler got in on the action in the 73rd, nearly finding the back of the net off of a RSL corner. Morales drilled the set piece in from the right side, finding Schuler at the back post. The big center back snapped an eight-yard header toward the lower-left corner and it looked ticketed for the back of the net before bouncing off of Grabavoy and out of danger.
Chivas USA pulled one back through substitute FW Julio Morales in the 77th minute. Substitute MF Carlo Chueca beat RSL’s offside trap with a long diagonal ball from the right side, finding an open Morales on the left wing. Morales collected and quickly dribbled into the box, toe-poking his effort past an onrushing Rimando and inside the left post from 15 yards out.
Chivas substitute FW Matthew Fondy nearly equalized in the 81st. Fondy made a mazy run through the left side and to the top of the box, where he hit a low, deflected shot off of a RSL defender – wrong-footing Rimando – and just wide of the left post.
RSL found some footing following Fondy’s chance, nearly adding an insurance tally in the 85th. Grabavoy switched a ball to a wide-open Gil in the right side of the box, but Melia made a big play, rushing off his line and slide tackling the ball away to clear the chance.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will now wait for the weekend’s results to play out to learn where and when the club will begin the Western Conference Semifinals.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 2-1 CHV
- Tonight’s home finale was RSL’s eighth sellout of the MLS regular season at Rio Tinto Stadium. The capacity crowd of 20,447 marked the fourth-straight MLS sellout at the Sandy facility.
- Tonight’s match held huge implications for where Real Salt Lake would finish in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield race. With tonight’s win over Chivas USA, RSL jumps into first-place in the Western Conference with a total of 56 points, bypassing Portland Timbers who now sit in second-place with 54 points. The win over the Goats guarantees the Claret-and-Cobalt a top-two seed in the Western Conference in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Timbers will play their last match of the regular season on Saturday against Chivas USA at the StubHub Center. A Portland win would see the Timbers win the Western Conference, while a Timbers tie or loss would give the Claret-and-Cobalt the regular season title.
- Real Salt Lake now sits in first-place in the Supporters’ Shield race based on the goals for tiebreaker. RSL is tied with New York Red Bulls on points (56) and wins (16), but edges them out on the goals for tiebreaker with 57 goals to New York’s 53. Sporting Kansas City sits in third-place with 55 points, followed by Portland Timbers with 54 points. In order for RSL to win the Shield, New York will need to lose their final match on Sunday against Chicago, have Sporting Kansas City draw/lose their final game (and not score more than 12 goals) on Saturday at Philadelphia and have the Portland Timbers draw/lose in their regular season finale on Saturday.
- Real Salt Lake finishes the 2013 MLS regular-season with a total of 56 points, posting a 16-10-8 overall record. The Claret-and-Cobalt registered a 10-3-4 home record through 17 home games and a 6-7-4 road record through 17 away games. The Claret-and-Cobalt’s road record matches last year’s club-best 6-7-4 (22 point) mark on the road.
- Real Salt Lake has clinched a playoff berth for the sixth-consecutive year, the second-longest such streak in MLS history. The Claret-and-Cobalt has also reached the 15-win and 50-point plateaus for the fourth-consecutive year, something no other MLS club has accomplished.
- RSL broke its three-game home winless streak at Rio Tinto Stadium (across all competitions) with its 2-1 win over Chivas USA. The Claret-and-Cobalt previously lost to the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Sept. 21, recorded a 1-0 defeat to D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup Final and drew FC Dallas 1-1 on Oct. 5.
- Tonight’s match was the third and final meeting between Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA this year. RSL went 3-0-0 against the Goats this season, completing its only three-game single-season sweep of 2013. Before tonight’s win, the Claret-and-Cobalt topped the Goats 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 20 and crushed the Southern California side 4-1 at the StubHub Center – then the Home Depot Center – on May 19. RSL had only swept Chivas USA once before, recording a perfect 2-0-0 record against the Goats in the 2011 season. The Claret-and-Cobalt now hold a 6-3-3 record against Chivas USA at home in a total of 12 meetings in the Beehive State.
- RSL is 12-10-4 in regular season play against Chivas USA since both teams’ inaugural season of 2005. The Claret-and-Cobalt has dominated the Southern California side over the past few years, posting a 9-2-1 MLS record against the Goats since upsetting them in the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs. Real Salt Lake has outscored Chivas USA 23-6 in that same span.
- This was the third time this season that both MF Yordany Alvarez and RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman were both in the starting lineup. Real Salt Lake is now 2-0-1 in games that Beckerman and Alvarez have started together this year, beating the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 28, tying 0-0 at Portland last Saturday, and recording a 2-1 win over Chivas USA on Wednesday.
- Tonight’s match marks the fourth-consecutive MLS start for Real Salt Lake DF Chris Schuler. Schuler returned from over four months out due to injury in RSL’s 1-0 win at Vancouver on Sept. 28. Prior to going out injured, Schuler had played every minute of RSL’s first 12 league matches. RSL is now 2-0-2 with Schuler in the lineup since his return.
- Real Salt Lake MF Javier Morales, who is nursing an ankle injury, entered the match at the start of the second half replacing MF Yordany Alvarez. His appearance coincided with both of RSL’s early second half goals scored in the 49th and 52nd minutes. Morales has registered one goal and notched five assists in 13 regular season games against Chivas USA.
- Real Salt Lake FW Alvaro Saborio has continued his success against Chivas USA, notching his fifth goal against the Goats, burying a penalty kick in the 49th minute. The Costa Rican now has five goals and two assists in nine career regular season games against the Southern California side.
- Real Salt Lake recorded 56.8 percent of possession, completing 477 passes with 84 percent accuracy and registering a total of 17 shots.
- Chivas USA has extended its losing streak to four games with tonight’s loss at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Goats previously loss 5-1 at Houston Dynamo on Sept. 21, suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 29 and fell 5-0 to in-stadium rival LA Galaxy on Oct. 6. Chivas USA now posts a 6-19-8 record this year through 33 of 34 regular season games.
REAL SALT LAKE 2–1 CHIVAS USA
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 23, 2013
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 2 2
Chivas USA 0 1 1
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Penalty Kick) – 49’
RSL – Joao Plata – 52’
CHV – Julio Morales (Carlo Chueca) – 77’
RSL – Chris Schuler (Yellow; Foul) – 13’
RSL – Nat Borchers (Yellow; Off the ball foul) – 31’
CHV – Erick Torres (Yellow; Dissent) – 45’ +1’
CHV – Oswaldo Minda (Yellow; Foul) – 47’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Lovel Palmer (Tony Beltran, 9’); Yordany Alvarez (Javier Morales, 46’), Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman (C), Luis Gil; Joao Plata (Robbie Findley, 62’), Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Cole Grossman, Sebastian Velasquez, Olmes Garcia
Chivas USA (4-2-3-1): Tim Melia; Mario de Luna, Carlos Bocanegra, Jaime Frias, Carlos Borja; Oswaldo Minda (Matthew Fondy, 76’), Bryan de la Fuente (Julio Morales, 76’), Eric Avila, Edgar Mejia, Carlos Alvarez (Carlo Chueca, 58’); Erick Torres
Substitutes not used: Patrick McLain, Jorge Villafana, Marvin Iraheta, Josue Soto
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Ismail Elfath
Weather: Clear and 59 degrees