SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake accomplished something that no other team in the league has been able to do this season—they beat the LA Galaxy, 1-0.
The two Western Conference juggernauts squared off at Rio Tinto Stadium before entering the World Cup break, and it turned out to be a thrilling affair, consisting of a lightning break and a goal off of a fluke play.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake came into this season preaching consistency. One game is not bigger than any other. The approach to home games and road games should be the same. However, this game against their recent MLS Cup nemesis and the previously unbeaten Los Angeles Galaxy was clearly not an ordinary affair.
After the game, RSL head coach Jason Kreis expressed what this match meant to the team.
"Over on the bench, I was thinking to myself before the match, during the match, after the match … our crowd was absolutely fantastic.”
Kreis and his team were equally happy with the result.
“[The result] is going to help in our confidence," said forward Pablo Campos, who had a hand in the winning goal. "We already beat the first in the league, and we’re going to grow as a team. It’s great.”
Now the team must face a two-and-a-half week break for the World Cup, and the players have mixed emotions about that.
Campos said he laments the prospect of having to wait to suit up again.
“I want to play tomorrow,” said Campos, who logged 26 minutes tonight and has been used sparingly during the first third of the season.
Will Johnson has seen a little bit more mileage this season and has a different perspective.
"Not for me—I’m pretty exhausted," he said. "I’ve had a lot of minutes lately and a lot of traveling.”
As for this match itself, the game-winner came off of an unusual—and for Real Salt Lake, fortunate—play.
Campos had the ball on the left side and cut back inside to try to elude a defender. As he did so, his touch failed him and Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens booted the ball towards his own end line as he came back toward the play. The ball found its way to the feet of Javier Morales, who was several yards beyond the defense. He took the gift, and easily put it past Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Controversy followed the play as Galaxy players, as well as head coach Bruce Arena, pleaded with the referee for an offside call.
But Kreis said the call was the proper one.
“Our player, from where I saw it, struck the ball off their defender and it went straight to Javier [Morales]," Kreis said. "So the ball has come from their player to our player, who is in an offside position—but you can’t be ruled offside if the ball comes from the defender.”
The goal was only the fourth given up by the Galaxy this season in 13 matches, and the first on the road. It was the second one put into the back of the LA net by Real Salt Lake.
On the other side of the ball, this is the second consecutive match in which Real Salt Lake has earned a shutout. The team has put more emphasis defense in recent weeks, and it has started to show dividends.
“We’ve harped on [defense] for a lot of weeks now, and to see us get some results for all of that work is very rewarding,” Kreis said. “You don’t always see results for what you work on right away."