SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake seem to relish demolishing the LA Galaxy.
So they were all smiles on Saturday night as they sent a chilling message to the rest of the league by rolling over the 2010 Western Conference champions in a 4-1 win.
READ: LA @ RSL Postgame Notes
Argentine playmaker Javier Morales led the way with two goals, one from the spot and one a screamer from outside the box. Andy Williams and Paulo Jr. also scored for the home side.
Juan Pablo Ángel notched his first goal for the Galaxy, a late consolation for a side that has never won at Rio Tinto Stadium.
WATCH: Juan Pablo Ángel strikes for his first Galaxy goal
A record crowd of 20,507 were on hand on a very cold evening, but the home side warmed them up early on.
RSL took the lead in just the 2nd minute through Williams. A cross from Paulo Jr. skipped past Fabian Espindola but found its way to Williams on the far post. The Jamaican one-timed it past Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
The Galaxy nearly drew level a couple of minutes later, when a David Beckham freekick ricocheted and dipped toward the upper corner. Instead, it clanged off of the woodwork and the loose ball was eventually controlled by RSL keeper Nick Rimando.
The game had opened up at a furious pace, pushed by RSL’s attack, and in just the 9th minute they made it pay off. Paulo Jr. ran onto a ball over the top and was knocked down by an the onrushing Saunders. The referee pointed to the spot and Morales converted.
WATCH: LA @ RSL Match Highlights
Salt Lake tripled their lead in the 41st minute when Morales corralled a throw in from Chris Wingert from the left side. Sprinting toward the inside, Morales sizzled a shot into the far side netting, giving RSL a commanding lead heading into the break.
An unfortunate defensive miscue by the Galaxy iced the game in the 68th minute. A seemingly harmless outlet pass to Espindola bounced past two LA defenders, and Espindola was able to rush into open space down the left side. His cross to the far post found Paulo Jr., who had only to redirect the ball into goal.
The absence of Landon Donovan, who was on international duty, left the Galaxy in the hands of Ángel and midfielder David Beckham. The two connected in the 80th minute as Ángel knocked in a Beckham cross amid a great deal of congestion in the RSL area.
It was not enough. RSL had the three points in the bag and assumed first place in the West.
RSL -- Andy Williams 1 (Paulo Araujo Jr. 1, Javier Morales 2) 2
RSL -- Javier Morales 1 (penalty kick) 10
RSL -- Javier Morales 2 (Chris Wingert 1) 41
RSL -- Paulo Araujo Jr. 1 (Fabian Espindola 1) 68
LA -- Juan Pablo Angel 1 (David Beckham 1) 80
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant, David Beckham (Bryan Jordan 88), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Paolo Cardozo 58), Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez 46).
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell (Tony Beltran 63), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Collen Warner 69), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Paulo Araujo Jr. (Luis Gil 77), Fabian Espindola.
LA -- Josh Saunders (caution; Reckless Foul) 9
LA -- David Beckham (caution; Verbal Distraction) 54
LA -- Miguel Lopez (caution; Tactical Foul) 54
LA -- Leonardo (caution; Reckless Foul) 74
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:50