By: Jae Groll
RSL opened the game with a bang. On 2′ a scramble at the top of the Galaxy area saw Javier Morales slot the ball down the left side to Paulo Jr.. Paulo sent his cross through the top of the box where Fabian Espindola whiffed on the shot and the ball bounced to Andy Williams on the far side where Williams shot a low hard shot back across goal for the opener.
Less than one minute later the Galaxy had a chance to answer. David Beckham‘s free kick from 25′ was deflected and dipped savagely to the far post hitting the top of the far post before Nick Rimando could jump on it.
Real Salt Lake continued their assault on the Galaxy goal on 9′ Paulo Jr. was fouled in the box by the keeper on a nifty lofted through ball from Espindola. Javier Morales stepped to the spot and after a nice hesitation move on the run up, slid it low to his right leaving the Galaxy keeper diving the wrong way.
RSL continued to control play for most of the first half keeping the Galaxy from finding any kind of rhythm in possession.
On 41’ RSL went up 3-0 when Morales took a throw-in from Chris Wingert from the left touch line and let the ball roll across the top of the box before sending a beautiful curling shot to the top right corner for what was surely the goal of the night.
Jason Kries was unusually upbeat about his teams first half performance calling it “The best soccer I’ve seen in this stadium, from this team. It was a sheer delight to watch that.”
RSL started the second half the same way they started the first. On 46′ a Nat Borchers header was barely saved on the line eliciting
appeals from the RSL players that the ball crossed the goal line but they were denied by the official.
A defensive miscue by the Galaxy saw Espindola all alone down the left side where he easily found the onrushing Paulo Jr. for a point blank knock in making it 4-0.
Los Angeles would not go quietly into the night however Beckham finding Juan Pablo Angel on a free kick in the 80th minute for what Beckham would later call “A consolation goal at the end of the night.”
Beckham was disappointed in the way the Galaxy came out to start the game saying “We have to take a lot from this game and look at the way we started the game, look at our attitude in the first half and think about it for the next game.”
L.A. Coach Bruce Arena echoed Beckham’s sentiments about the teams first half performance “It would be easy to say that basically every player on the field for us was out played by a player wearing a Real Salt Lake shirt.” he explained “At the end of the day when that happens you’re not going to win any games.”
RSL play next on April 5th in the CONCACAF Champions League in Costa Rica against Saprissa. The Galaxy are at home on April 2nd against the Philadelphia Union in Los Angeles.
Player of the match: Paulo Arujo Jr. was the energizer bunny for RSL. He assisted on the first goal, won the penalty for the second goal and topped his performance off with a goal of his own. Although Kries felt Paulo could have given a better effort on defense in the first half saying “Defensively I wasn’t too pleased…….I talked to him at halftime and in the second half he made a couple good defensive tackles for us which is important.” it wasn’t all bad from Kries though “I felt he was dangerous every time he touched the ball and every time he was around it.”
The RioT strikes again: 36 games in a row, in all competitions at the formidable Rio Tinto Stadium have not seen RSL lose. The rabid fans coupled with the lung busting altitude combine for what has to be one of the toughest places to play in professional sports in the USA. Saturday night’s RioT record setting attendance mark in cold, windy and sometimes rainy conditions are a testament to the 12th man that these fans provide.
The Streakers: RSL are now tied for the 3rd longest unbeaten streak in MLS history. The streak started back on July 24, 2010 and they are 4 games away from tying the all time MLS unbeaten streak of 19 shared by Dallas and Columbus.
Photos Courtesy of: Austin Tuckett