CARSON, Calif. – Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3 points, West #1) started its 10th season in style on Saturday night, defeating Western Conference rival LA Galaxy (0-1-0, 0 points, West #5) 1-0 at StubHub Center.
FW Joao Plata scored the game’s lone goal in the 80th minute, and RSL GK Nick Rimando put in a heroic performance to keep the clean sheet, saving a LA FW Robbie Keane penalty in the 93rd minute and making nine total saves to give RSL all three points. The Claret-and-Cobalt has now won five-consecutive MLS regular season openers dating back to 2010.
Saturday’s shutout gives Rimando 109 for his MLS career, three short of the all-time MLS record currently held by retired GK Kevin Hartman.
The game got off to a fast start and never really slowed down, with both teams registering plenty of chances throughout. LA had the match’s first chance in the fifth minute. MF Marcelo Sarvas had the opportunity, collecting a ball in the center of RSL’s third and blasting a 25-yard effort just over the bar. The Galaxy kept the pressure on following Sarvas’ chance, with MF Landon Donovan registering an opportunity of his own in the seventh minute.
RSL GK Nick Rimando made a big save in the 12th minute to keep LA off the board. LA FW Robbie Keane collected a MF Gyasi Zardes pass in the left side of the area, curling a low 15-yarder toward the back post that Rimando kept out with a fine diving save. The rebound fell to LA FW Samuel in the right side of the six, but his close-range effort was blocked out for a corner kick by RSL DF Aaron Maund.
Keane wasted an opportunity to put LA ahead in the 19th minute. Donovan created the chance, collecting a ball in the left side of the area and dribbling toward the end line before hitting a ball across the face of goal. The cross fell to an open Keane at the back post, but the Irish international couldn’t take advantage, hitting his left-footed half-volley over the bar from six yards.
RSL had its first chance of the match in the 21st minute. MF Javier Morales collected a ball on the left side, turning and dribbling toward goal before curling a 25-yarder that LA GK Jaime Penedo parried around the far post and out for a corner.
Penedo made an even bigger stop in the 25th minute, robbing RSL FW Joao Plata of a goal. Morales slipped Plata through in the right side of the area, with the tiny Ecuadorian taking a touch and slamming a right-footer on target from eight yards. It looked like Plata’s effort would sneak past Penedo at the near post, but the Panamanian ‘keeper made a big stop, blocking the well-hit ball with his left hand and pushing it out for a corner.
RSL had another chance in the 26th minute. Plata created the opportunity, whipping a cross in from the left side to Maund at the near post. The third-year center back took the cross out of the air, flicking a right-footed shot on target that Penedo blocked.
LA controlled the rest of the half, creating four very good looks at goal. Offseason signing FW Samuel had a look in the 31st minute, collecting a Keane through ball in the right side of the area before turning a firing a low 10-yarder that Rimando held with a dive. MF Juninho had a dangerous free kick in the 34th minute, curling a 20-yard dead ball from the left side on frame that Rimando again held.
Keane had the best chance of the half seconds later, rocketing a shot off the right post in the 34th minute. Donovan intercepted an errant Rimando clearance deep in RSL’s half, heading the ball from his position on the left flank into the path of Keane in the middle. The Designated Player ran onto and fired a first-time effort toward the far post, with his shot slamming off the inside of the woodwork and bouncing out of danger.
Rimando made his sixth – and best – save of the first half in the 38th minute. Donovan – who needs just one goal to become MLS’s all-time scoring leader – collected a Keane through ball behind the RSL defense in the left side of the area, running onto the pass and putting a low effort on frame. Rimando stuffed his U.S. Men’s National Team teammate, quickly going low and to his left to keep the match scoreless.
Both sides started the second half with half-chances. RSL had the first, with Plata running unmarked onto a Morales cross on the left edge of the six before heading meekly at Penedo in the 49th. Zardes had LA’s half-chance in the 51st, dribbling to a good position at the top of the area before spraying a shot well over the bar.
RSL FW Alvaro Saborio had a big chance to give the Claret-and-Cobalt the lead in the 55th. Plata picked up a ball near midfield on the left flank and got all the way to the end line, eventually chipping a cross to his unmarked strike partner at the back post. Saborio couldn’t quite take advantage of the opportunity, heading off the turf and over the bar from the top-right corner of the six.
The game settled down after Saborio’s chance, not taking off again until the 75th minute, when substitute RSL MF Luke Mulholland – making his RSL debut after signing with the club this offseason – had a goal controversially called back for offside. Saborio created the opportunity, chipping a ball into Plata at the top of the six. Plata collected and put a shot on frame that Penedo parried away. The Galaxy ‘keeper couldn’t hold the rebound however, allowing Mulholland to run onto it in the center of the six and tap home for an apparent goal. The linesman, of course, had other ideas, calling Mulholland offside and disallowing the tally.
LA took advantage of RSL’s confusion following the offside decision, quickly restarting and racing down the field on the counter. Rimando came up big again for RSL, making a solid diving stop on substitute LA MF Stefan Ishizaki to prevent a score.
Plata gave RSL the lead in the 80th minute. Substitute MF Cole Grossman collected a ball on the right wing, quickly finding Captain Kyle Beckerman in the middle with a square ball. Beckerman setup Plata, slipping a beautiful through ball through several players to hit the unmarked Ecuadorian at the top of the box. Plata did the rest, collecting, taking a touch toward goal and slotting a 15-yard effort past the onrushing Penedo and into the left side of the net.
Rimando saved the three points for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 93rd minute, furthering his excellent record on PK’s with a save on Keane. Substitute Galaxy FW Rob Friend earned the controversial penalty, falling to the ground after leaping over RSL DF Tony Beltran. Thankfully for RSL, Rimando saved the day, reading Keane correctly and diving to his right to make the incredible stop.
RSL will return to action next Saturday, continuing its California road trip with a match against San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. The RSL-San Jose match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on ABC 4 and ESPN 700. Real Salt Lake will open its home schedule on Saturday, March 22, when it will host the Galaxy at 2:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets to the March 22 home opener can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, over the phone at 801-727-2700 or online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1-0 LA
- Tonight’s match was newly appointed RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s first official game in charge of the Claret-and-Cobalt. RSL’s third-ever head coach, Cassar is the first coach in RSL history to win his coaching debut.
- Real Salt Lake has now won five consecutive season opening matches, with all five of those games coming on the road. RSL has outscored its opposition 10-1 in its last five season openers.
- Saturday’s clean sheet was the 109th of RSL GK Nick Rimando’s career. Rimando is second in MLS history in shutouts, trailing all-time leader Kevin Hartman by three clean sheets.
- Rimando’s penalty kick save on LA FW Robbie Keane makes opposing players 41/61 against Rimando on penalty kicks. Rimando’s 32.8 percent save percentage on penalty kicks in the best rate in MLS history.
- Captain Kyle Beckerman assisted on RSL’s only goal scored by Plata, recording his 44th career regular season assist and his 28th for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the regular season. Beckerman had six assists in the 2013 regular season and one in the 2013 playoffs. Beckerman also moved into eighth place all-time in MLS history with 297 career games started tonight. Beckerman is currently tied with Tyrone Marshall.
- With a dramatic stoppage time penalty save, RSL keeper Nick Rimando recorded his 109th career shutout. Rimando is second in MLS history behind Kevin Hartman who holds the record at 112. The California native has now saved 12 of 38 penalty kicks in MLS regular season play.
- RSL DF Aaron Maund earned his fourth league start for Real Salt Lake in tonight’s season opening match. Maund was acquired by RSL last offseason via trade with Toronto FC.
- Tonight’s season opener featured first-time club appearances for two Claret-and-Cobalt players. English MF Luke Mulholland was signed in the offseason and came on for MF Luis Gil in the 66th minute. Newly signed Homegrown MF Jordan Allen entered the match in the 89th minute for FW Joao Plata.
- RSL DF Chris Schuler, FW’s Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval and MF Sebastian Velasquez were missing from tonight’s lineup. Schuler and Findley are recovering from offseason surgeries. Findley was plagued by nagging injuries throughout 2013, and he ruptured his patellar tendon in the MLS Cup final and had surgery a few days later. Schuler has suffered from a nagging foot injury for the past three seasons and is set to return to the fold soon. Sandoval spent the latter part of the season dealing with a broken bone in his foot. He reinjured it days before the MLS Cup final and was out for that game. He had surgery on it in the offseason and is still rehabbing. Velasquez is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury initially picked up in RSL’s final preseason camp.
REAL SALT LAKE 1–0 LA GALAXY
SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2014
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
LA Galaxy 0 0 0
RSL – Joao Plata (Kyle Beckerman) – 80’
RSL - Javier Morales (Yellow; Foul) – 35’
LA – James Riley (Yellow; Foul) – 45’
RSL – Luke Mulholland (Yellow; Time wasting) – 79’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Yellow; Foul) – 87’
RSL – Nick Rimando (Yellow; Time wasting) – 90’+3’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (C), Luis Gil (Luke Mulholland, 66’), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales (Cole Grossman, 78’); Alvaro Saborio, Joao Plata (Jordan Allen, 89’)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Abdoulie Mansally, Carlos Salcedo, Olmes Garcia
LA Galaxy (4-4-2): Jamie Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, James Riley; Landon Donovan, Juninho (Baggio Husidic, 88’), Marcelo Sarvas, Gyasi Zardes (Stefan Ishizaki, 69’); Robbie Keane (C), Samuel Rosa (Rob Friend, 77’)
Substitutes not used: Todd Dunivant, Dan Gargan, Brian Perk, Tommy Meyer
Referee: Javier Santos
Assistant Referees: Jairo Morales, Jose Da Silva
4th Official: William Anderson
Weather: Clear and 64 degrees