Categorized | MLS, MLS Match Reports

Espindola Brace rallies Real Salt Lake past Galaxy

Posted on 07 October 2012 by iyeo

With playoff positioning, save the top spot, still yet to be determined in the tightknit Western Conference, Real Salt Lake got a big boost from one of its big time players on Saturday evening.

Fabian Espindola came through right when RSL needed him; scoring two goals to rescue RSL from a one-goal deficit and Real Salt Lake rode those goals as well as a stubborn defensive effort to a crucial 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.

“A lot of players made big plays in our box tonight,” Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said. “A lot of our guys were in the exact right spots to deal with their service and that was hugely important.”

The three points gives RSL some much-needed breathing room heading into the international break, as they are now five points clear of LA for second place in the Western Conference standings. As for the Galaxy, they are just one point ahead of Seattle for the third spot in the conference pending the outcome of the Sounders’ match against Portland on Sunday evening.

“We were sloppy with our defending in our penalty area and not real sharp with our attacking play in the other penalty area,”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We just weren’t sharp enough for 90 minutes.”
The Galaxy dictated possession for the first 20 minutes, getting an array of chances on goal. The first LA chance came three minutes in, as Landon Donovan sprung Keane on the right side, Keane then fed a ball back to Donovan in the penalty area, but Donovan had his shot denied by right back Tony Beltran and keeper Nick Rimando collected the ball. Three minutes later, Juninho hit the crossbar on one of his patented long-range volleys and a Donovan cross into the box for Mike Magee was cut off. LA finally achieved the breakthrough in the 17th minute, as Juninho crossed a ball to Keane and the striker’s one-time volley beat Rimando far post to give the Galaxy the early lead.

However, RSL soon took over, getting the equalizer in the 25th minute. It started when Javier Morales played a ball towards strikers Espindola and Alvaro Saborio. Espindola’s dummy enabled the ball to get to Saborio, who then knocked a ball off center back Omar Gonzalez, then played it to a sprinting Espindola in the box and he quickly shot a ball past keeper Josh Saunders to tie the game. Espindola put RSL ahead in the 28th minute when he leaped high to head in Javier Morales’ cross past Saunders at the far post.

“Fabian another fantastic night,” Kreis said. “He was terrific with what he did with the ball, scored two great goals, but also defensively, put himself in some really great positions to help our team.”

Los Angeles was already shorthanded for the match, having to go without Center Back AJ DeLaGarza due to a knee injury and Left Back Todd Dunivant due to an undisclosed injury. The injury bug got worse late in the second half when Donovan pulled up lame on his left knee while sending a ball into the penalty area. Donovan was eventually subbed out in the 85th minute for Jose Villareal. The injury not only comes at a bad time for the Galaxy, but also for the U.S. National Team, with CONCOACAF World Cup qualifying matches at Antigua and Barbuda on Friday, followed by a home match against Guatemala at Kansas City’s Livestrong Sporting Park on October 16th.

When asked if his injury could prevent him from participating for the national team, Donovan simply said “TBD” (To Be Determined), though Donovan preferred to focus on Saturday’s loss rather than his status for the U.S. qualifiers.

“I think we’re just disappointed in the game in general,” Donovan said. “We’re not really worried about that part right now.”

Following the international break, both the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake will return for more massive Western Conference showdowns. LA travels to San Jose to face the league-leading Earthquakes on October 21st, while Real Salt Lake faces Seattle on October 17th.

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