Real Salt Lake took the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race Wednesday with a 2-1 win against Chivas USA.
The win in the side’s last match of the regular season guarantees Salt Lake at least second in the Western Conference, and a shot at the regular season title if opponents stumble this weekend. Salt Lake will win the Supporters’ Shield if Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers each lose or draw this weekend and the New York Red Bulls lose.
Even if all those results do not go Salt Lake’s way, the home side has ensured it will not face a play-in match that the fourth seed would have required. Instead, Jason Kreis’ men will at least have home field advantage in the Western Conference semifinal, and may have earned it through MLS Cup depending upon the weekend’s results.
While Salt Lake looked like the dominant side on paper, the match was actually very close.
Both sides had opportunities early. Chivas USA threatened in the 6th minute when Eric Avila got behind the back line and was adjudged to be onside. The Salt Lake defense got back and was able to disrupt his cross and escape unscathed.
Salt Lake had early opportunities as well. In the 9th minute a pass from Ned Grabavoy found Alvaro Saborio on a run into the Chivas box. Saborio earned a shot from a tough angle and fired low across the ground, just missing wide of the far post.
Joao Plata brought the crowd to its feet in the 12th minute when a counter-attack sprung by Saborio found Grabavoy and eventually the young Ecuadorian with space outside the Chivas box. Plata fired hard and missed just over the crossbar.
Chivas continued to have opportunities, though. Nick Rimando was called into action in the 17th minute with a diving save that kept a well-placed Erick Torres header out of the net. Carlos Alvarez got the rebound and fired hard, but missed just wide.
Yordany Alvarez got into the attack when he headed a Grabavoy cross at the far post in the 22nd minute, but he sent it weakly enough that – former RSL man and current Chivas USA goalkeeper – Tim Melia was able to make the save.
Melia was forced to make a tougher save in the 28th minute when a free kick from Kyle Beckerman found Saborio at to the top of the six yard box. Saborio’s header redirected the ball toward the bottom left corner of the net, forcing a diving save from Melia.
The sides traded a few other opportunities but nothing found the net. The first half ended scoreless.
Javier Morales entered the match at the start of the second half and immediately made an impact. Salt Lake created a chance in the opening possession of the half, which led to a failed Plata bicycle kick and a shot from Saborio that missed just over the crossbar.
Salt Lake got on the board minutes later when Mario de Luna handled the ball in the 48th minute in his own box. Saborio converted the resulting penalty kick to give the home side the lead.
Plata made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute when a through ball headed into the Chivas box was deflected out by a defender. Plata pounced on it and fired it into the bottom left corner of the net, beating Melia and giving Salt Lake an insurance goal.
Chivas USA pulled one back in the 77th minute when Julio Morales beat a poorly executed offside trap from Salt Lake and beat Rimando one on one to bring the match within a goal.
That was all the scoring for the evening, as Salt Lake successfully killed off the remainder of the match.
Category: Game Review