Carson, Calif. • It was the goalkeeper who came up for the free kick.
Dan Kennedy blasted an awkward shot from 20 yards out directly at the wall of players standing in front of one goal and was left scrambling back to his own. And, yet, somehow in the aftermath, there was a perfect cross and a header that required a diving save.
Welcome to Chivas USA.
Unorthodox and dangerous play had the team, as RSL coach Jason Kreis said, “living and dying by the sword” once again Sunday night. And RSL was more than happy to be the latest Goat slayers, beating Chivas 4-1 in front of a sparse crowd at the Home Depot Center.
“It’s very interesting some of the tactics that they’re taking and some of the choices that they’re making with their over-aggressive style,” Kreis said after the victory. “What it does is it opens up a lot of space behind them. ... And they got punished for some of those decisions.”
Salt Lake got off to its quickest start of the season when midfielder Javier Morales linked with Ned Grabavoy for a fourth-minute goal. Morales appeared to mishit a pass, but the ball found space behind Chivas’ three-man back line and Grabavoy calmly slotted it home for his first MLS goal since 2011.
“We knew we were going to find chances, it was just a matter of finishing them,” Grabavoy said. “We probably could have finished a lot more, to be honest with you.”
RSL stretched its lead just minutes after coming out of the locker room.
Forward Joao Plata, who has seen a number of point-blank shots on goal stopped this year, took a Kyle Beckerman pass and beat Kennedy for his first goal in an RSL uniform.
But the attack-minded Chivas would not be denied forever.
Chivas saw a first-half blast off the foot of midfielder Eric Avila skim off the top half of the crossbar. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, meanwhile, stonewalled the Goats on five other shots, including a beautiful kick save to deny forward Jose Correa.
In the 55th minute, however, Chivas midfielder Jorge Villafana got on the end of a cross and looped a header over Rimando and into the back of the net.
Chivas continued to push numbers forward after that.
But RSL’s Robbie Findley, a part of two botched attacks after coming on as a second-half substitute, put his team back in control game when he poked in a Yordany Alvarez cross in the 78th minute.
Grabavoy iced the game in stoppage time with his second goal of the game.
The victory was Salt Lake’s second road win in three tries. RSL beat New England last week before giving up a late lead and falling in Montreal on Saturday. RSL (6-5-2) ended its three-game, coast-to-coast road swing with its second victory of the season over Chivas.
The team now returns to Utah for four consecutive home matches.
Storylines Climbing above .500
R Ned Grabavoy scores RSL’s first and last goals in the 4-1 win.
• Salt Lake (6-5-2) finishes its three-game road swing 2-1-0.