Carson, Calif. • It was considered common knowledge entering this 2014 Major League Soccer season that indeed the time would come when Real Salt Lake’s stars would poof and disappear for a bit. Odds were stacked in the favor of Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio to represent their respective countries on the world’s stage in Brazil.
It was also common knowledge that missing each player would bring respective talent gaps that needed to be replaced upon their departing in mid-May. Beckerman’s quarterback spot at the base of the diamond midfield formation, Rimando’s leadership and game-changing ability between the posts and Saborio’s mastering of putting the ball in the back of the net.
Galaxy 1, RSL 0
RSL 0 0 — 0
Galaxy 1 0 — 1
First half—1, Los Angeles, Zardes 4 (Sarvas), 20th minute.
Goalies—Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando; Los Angeles, Jaime Penedo.
Yellow Cards—Garcia, Real Salt Lake, 90th+; Rimando, Real Salt Lake, 90th+.
Referee—Silviu Petrescu. Assistant Referees—Kermit Quisenberry. Craig Lowry. 4th Official—Daniel Radford.
Real Salt Lake—Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, John Stertzer (Luke Mulholland, 63rd), Javier Morales, Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy, 46th), Kyle Beckerman, Devon Sandoval (Olmes Garcia, 72nd), Joao Plata.
Los Angeles—Jaime Penedo, A.J. DeLaGarza, Dan Gargan, Tommy Meyer, Robbie Rogers, Landon Donovan, Juninho (Kenney Walker, 90th), Marcelo Sarvas, Baggio Husidic (Stefan Ishizaki, 79th), Robbie Keane (Leonardo, 90th+), Gyasi Zardes.
The latter sentiment is ringing louder and louder in the wake of another rough offensive outing in the 1-0 loss to the L.A. Galaxy Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. It was the club’s third loss in its last six outings.
All three players were missed while away, but Beckerman and Rimando returned from the World Cup unscathed, while an errant step or tackle at a pre-World Cup training camp in Costa Rica thwarted Saborio’s dream of returning to the tournament. The broken foot meant rather than his return around the same time as his teammates, Saborio’s 2014 campaign resumes sometime in September — maybe even October.
But the lingering absence of RSL’s all-time leading goal scorer is becoming more and more evident with each passing week. Another 90 minutes came and went and the club struggled to capitalize on chances. Minus Saborio for the last two months, the forward corps of Devon Sandoval, Robbie Findley and Olmes Garcia has yet to find the back of the net as the club officially hit the halfway point of its season Saturday in Southern California.
"Scoring chances just don’t come from the forwards," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. "It comes from buildup, getting numbers forward, obviously runs and the final pass. We need that final pass to not just be close, to be perfect, so then they’re able to do their thing."
Facing a Galaxy team it knows would sit back, absorb pressure and break, RSL, despite controlling possession, had a hard time maintaining itself when L.A. busted loose.
It worked for L.A. in the 20th minute when Javier Morales went down and was dispossessed in the attack, allowing Galaxy star Landon Donovan to turn and bolt. The ball eventually made its way to midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who put a cross on the ground atop the 18-yard box. L.A. captain Robbie Keane let it roll by to fellow forward Gyasi Zardes, who struck the ball that hit one post and rolled to the other side of the net to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. That’s all the Galaxy needed in the end.
"All in all, I’m not really upset at all with the match," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "Obviously the result didn’t go our way, but I thought we controlled the game, our possession was good, our movement was good. We created a lot of chances, we just didn’t put them away. Against these teams on the road, you’ve got to put your chances away."
Two minutes later, Keane whipped in a curling left-footed cross across the face of goal, but a sliding Zardes barely missed out doubling the Galaxy’s advantage. In the second half, Rimando was called upon to keep the deficit at one. He did that in the 50th minute when his point-blank stop on Keane went out. Five minutes later, Rimando stayed put in another 1-on-1 with Keane and snagged another shot. Rimando also stopped Donovan, barely ridding the ball of the Galaxy attacker in the box. He stopped a penalty kick in the final minute of stoppage time after taking down Sarvas in the box.
RSL’s best chance of the night came in the 62nd minute when forward Joao Plata rifled a shot toward goal, but goalkeeper Jaime Penedo cleared it with a point-blank save of his own. In the 89th minute, substitute Ned Grabavoy was in the clear, but his shot went wide and into the side net.
"Overall frustrating because I feel like we could’ve earned a little bit more [tonight]," defender Tony Beltran said.
A bit of controversy came in the 84th minute when defender Chris Wingert was kicked in the face by Juninho inside the box. In the locker room afterward, a visible cleat mark was seen above Wingert’s right eye, but referee Silviu Petrescu didn’t signal a foul.
"That’s a foul," Cassar said. "Chris isn’t putting his head down low to get kicked in the face. It’s right there. It’s whether [the referee] has the gall to make that call. But he chose not to, but we put ourselves in those positions and I’m really proud of the guys for that."
Now RSL returns home for four of its next five league matches at Rio Tinto Stadium, starting next Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
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