MLS: Real Salt Lake shuts out Chivas USA, 3-0
Carson, Calif. • That worked out just about exactly the way Real Salt Lake wanted.
Forward Fabian Espindola scored twice once on each side of halftime and Will Johnson added a stoppage-time strike as RSL beat Chivas USA 3-0 in front of 13,816 fans at the Home Depot Center on Saturday to avenge a shocking home loss to the Goats nearly three months ago.
"It was a good game for us," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "We had it in the back of our mind that they beat us at home."
The victory extended the team's unbeaten streak to seven games and kept it atop the Major League Standings with 32 points from a 10-3-2 record, while snapping the four-game run the Goats had been enjoying.
"I'm really, really pleased," coach Jason Kreis said. "The guys played probably the best match we've played this year, from start to finish. It was the most complete match. We just did an excellent job on both sides of the ball."
Four internationals returned to the lineup for RSL after weeks away playing World Cup qualifiers for their countries midfielder Javier Morales returned, too, from a quadriceps injury and they all made a difference.
But Espindola made the biggest one.
His first goal came on a header off a long, pinpoint pass from midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the 35th minute, before he juked former RSL defender Rauwshan McKenzie in the 54th minute to blast home his second from the right side.
The goals moved Espindola into the team lead with six goals, tied with Alvaro Saborio.
Saborio was among the internationals returning, and he was coming off a hat trick for Costa Rica in a qualifier against Guyana. He nearly staked RSL a lead in the 35th minute, when he easily knocked home a cross from defender Chris Wingert, only to be ruled offside.
Replays seemed to show it was a bad call.
Nevertheless, Espindola struck just a few minutes later, and that was all RSL would need after playing just one league game in a five-week stretch.
The Goats had scored only nine goals in 13 games all season, including just three in seven home games even though all three had come in their last three at the Home Depot Center.
They seldom threatened Rimando, who posted the team's third shutout in its last four games.
"For the most part, I thought we had a pretty good performance," defender Chris Wingert said.
Especially considering that Wingert played the last half-hour in central defense. Kreis moved him there when Morales entered in the 60th minute, moving Will Johnson to left back to make room in the midfield.
Morales last played against Chicago on May 9.
"He looked pretty good," Kreis said.
In their second year under former RSL assistant coach Robin Fraser, the Goats have improved but still fell to 4-7-3, and new acquisitions Juan Agudelo and Danny Califf made little impact on the game.
The Goats also played without injured Jose Correa, the recently acquired Colombian international midfielder who had scored two of Chivas' last four goals.
Storylines Full roster helps RSL to win
R IN SHORT • Real Salt Lake extends its unbeaten streak to seven games with a 3-0 win at Chivas USA.
KEY STAT • The Goats have scored just three goals in eight home games.
KEY MOMENT • RSL's Fabian Espindola jukes former teammate Rauwshan McKenzie to make space for his insurance goal in the 54th minute.