RSL closed their regular season with a comfortably with a 2-1 win over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto and in the process securing at least a second seed in the playoffs. All the goals came in the second half, with Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata scoring for the hosts and
Having secured a playoff position last Saturday, RSL were coming into the last game of the season looking for a win and hoping that Sporting KC, Red Bulls and Portland Timbers slip up, as the teams jostle for the Supporters’ Shield. An RSL win would propel them to a minimum of 2nd seed, whereas anything less would mean that RSL needed to rely on a host of other results in the Western Conference for a favorable seeding.
Chivas USA were coming into the game bottom of the Western Conference with only 26 points, as they were hoping to end their road campaign on a high.
The first chance of the game came to Chivas, as Edgar Meija found space in the right flank and spotted Erick Torres in the box. The forward’s rushed effort was blocked by Chris Schuler. RSL soon had a chance of their own, as a break-away in the 12th minute found Joao Plata at the edge of the box. The forward’s effort went over the bar.
Chivas soon created more problems down the right flankas Eric Avila ominously ran with pace down the byline in the 16th minute. His cross was met by Torres, whose header forced a good save off Rimando. Carlos Alvarez tried to pounce on the rebound, but his effort went wide.
As the half wore on, RSL predictably took more control of the game and looked particularly threatening from set-pieces. Forward Alvaro Saborio towered over the Chivas defense on several occasions, most notably in the 28th minute from a Beckerman free-kick. The Costa-Rican’s header was saved by Chivas keeper and former RSL man Tim Meila.
The teams went into the half 0-0, but Kreis could have been worried having both center-backs booked within the first 45 minutes.
Kreis’ men, however, came of the blocks fast in the 2nd half, having brought on talismanic playmaker Javier Morales. They were quickly rewarded, as referee saw a handball in the box from defender Mario de Luna following a Plata flick-on. Saborio converted from the spot to give RSL the lead in the 49th minute.
Chivas’ woes were compounded in the 52nd minute when Joao Plata found himself at the end of a loose ball following good RSL play in the Chivas’ third. The forward’s neatly placed finish past Meila gave RSL a two-goal cushion.
Midfielder Ned Gravaboy could have easily had a third for RSL in the 55th, when he found himself in a one-on-one with Meila after he found himself at the end of a Morales ball. The Chivas keeper, however, made the save.
In the 67th minute, Gravaboy found himself with a more difficult chance when he was on the receiving end of a low cross from Tony Beltran. The angle was too tight, however, and his shot went wide.
Chivas barely mounted a clear-cut opportunity in the second half and in fact, it was the home team with the more decisive chances in the latter stages. Robbie Findley, on for Plata, forced another save from Meila from the edge of the box in the 71st. This was soon followed by a goal-mouth scramble following a Chris Schuler header from a corner, but desperate defending prevented an RSL goal.
It appeared RSL would cruise to the final whistle, but Chivas did manage to bring some life back in the game in the 77th minute. Substitute Julio Morales caught the RSL backline off-guard and found himself at the end of a Carlos Chueca ball. The forward‘s intelligent finish pulled one back for away side.
The closing few minutes were a bit more nervy than RSL would have anticipated, but the home side held on to their one goal lead. The win guarantees RSL a top-two seed, playing their road and home games in the Conference Semis on Nov 2/3 and Nov 6/7. The result also gives RSL hopes of winning the Supporters’ Shield, as they would be hoping the other contenders slip up this weekend.
Ironically, it is Chivas USA who could be helping the RSL cause as they take on Portland Timbers. Anything less than a win for Chivas would ensure top spot for RSL in the West.