Sandy • In an up-and-down game, Real Salt Lake’s forwards were inches away from a goal all night.
Alvaro Saborio saw a chip shot sail over Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and the crossbar. Two other clear chances were blocked.
RSL’s Olmes Garcia, meanwhile, pinged the crossbar — twice.
In the end, it was a reversal of roles that brought Real Salt Lake victory.
Just seconds after Garcia’s shot hit the bar for the second time in the match, Saborio sent a cross from the right side into the box. Javier Morales, the midfield maestro who usually helps orchestrate Saborio’s goals, put his head on the ball and sent it past Kennedy to give RSL a 1-0 win.
“I told him, ‘Finally you give me an assist and I score,’ ” Morales said afterward. “Sabo, he played a great game tonight. Unlucky that he couldn’t score, but he made a lot of good runs and had a lot of good chances. He made a great cross to me. I just have to head it and put it in the net.”
Morales’ game-winner was set up in part by a terrific penalty-kick save in the first half. After the referee called a handball on RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy, Chivas was awarded a penalty kick. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s diving save preserved the clean sheet.
“It’s good to get the monkey off my back and help my teammates,” said Rimando, who was beaten on a penalty kick a week ago in Vancouver.
And while Morales’ goal was the game’s only one, it could have easily had company.
Both RSL and Chivas saw plenty of offensive chances, thanks in part to a very aggressive style of play by the Goats. Chivas often defended with three players, pushing numbers forward and testing the RSL defense.
“I really felt like that was one of the most complicated games I’ve coached,” RSL’s Jason Kreis said. “Some of the tactical decisions they were making were stuff that we just don’t see in our league too often.”
The 14,900 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium — RSL’s smallest home crowd in nearly a year — were treated to a fast-paced, end-to-end game.
“If you didn’t enjoy watching that game, you probably should think about not watching soccer anymore,” Kreis said. “Because these were two teams that just went at it. It was end to end for a while tonight. Probably not my ideal situation, but for a general soccer fan I would hope they would have enjoyed it.”
The win leapfrogs RSL (3-3-2) over Chivas USA for second place in the Western Conference. With two more matches left in the homestand, RSL hopes to earn consecutive victories for the first time this season.
O For the second week in a row, RSL is called for a handball in the box.
• Nick Rimando’s penalty kick save was the 18th of his career, adding to the Major League Soccer record he already owns.
• Javier Morales became the fifth RSL player to score a goal this season.
RSL 1, Chivas 0
Chivas USA 0 0 — 0
Real Salt Lake 0 1 — 1
First half » None.
Second half » 1, Real Salt Lake, Morales 1 (Saborio, Garcia), 53rd minute.
Goalies » Chivas USA, Dan Kennedy ; Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando.
Yellow Cards • De Luna, Chivas USA, 18th Burling, Chivas USA, 59th Grabavoy, Real Salt Lake, 76th Velazquez, Chivas USA, 87th Palmer, Real Salt Lake, 90th.
Red Cards • Mejia, Chivas USA, 90th+.
Referee • Jorge Gonzalez. Assistant Referees • Adam Wienckowski. Matthew Nelson. 4th Official • Allen Chapman.
Attendance » 14,900 (20,008)
Chivas USA • Dan Kennedy, Joaquin Velazquez, Mario De Luna (Carlos Borja, 40th), Bobby Burling, Carlos Alvarez, Eric Avila, Marvin Iraheta (Giovani Casillas, 58th), Jorge Villafana (Tristan Bowen, 66th), Edgar Mejia, Julio Morales, Jose Correa. Real Salt Lake • Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Lovel Palmer, Nat Borchers, Javier Morales (Khari Stephenson, 90th+), Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez, Luis Gil (Sebastian Velasquez, 75th), Olmes Garcia (Robbie Findley, 63rd), Alvaro Saborio.