LA Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake 0 | MLS Match Recap
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, thankful to be healthier after injuries depleted their lineups the past month or so, brought on the big guns after halftime, but a spirited affair Wednesday night at StubHub Center was determined by a penalty kick in the opening minutes.
Juninho, whose stoppage-time spot kick was denied by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando in a scoreless draw three weeks earlier in Sandy, Utah, converted from the spot in the seventh minute, and the Galaxy (5-4-5) claimed a 1-0 triumph to post successive shutouts for the first time this season.
RSL (4-4-5) trotted out a new formation and were the better side most of the last 75 minutes, but they put just one shot on frame -- a weak Olmes Garcia attempt that goalkeeper Jaime Penedo swallowed up in the 77th minute -- while limiting the Galaxy's opportunities in all but the early minutes in each half.
Robbie Keane came on for the Galaxy at halftime, and they created their two best chances from the run of play shortly afterward, and RSL was more dangerous after Javier Morales and Joao Plata came off the bench in the 54th minute.
Morales, just back from a concussion, and Plata, who missed the first 11 games with a broken foot, had seen limited minutes in last weekend's victory over New York City FC.
RSL needed about 15 minutes to figure out how best to employ a new 4-2-3-1 alignment, and the Galaxy had them on their heels the whole time. LA repeatedly worked into their box, but only Mika Väyrynen tested Rimando, who leapt to his left to knocked down a deflected shot from the top of the box at the right post.
On another quick attack moments later, Väyrynen fed a streaking Ignacio Maganto inside the box, and Jamison Olave hit the ball with his arm as he slid in to stop the rookie. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot and Juninho converted, firing the left as Rimando went the other way.
RSL found their footing shortly afterward, and, although they struggled to create viable chances, the Galaxy scrambled much of the rest of the half. The Utahns had five set pieces -- four free kicks and a corner kick -- in an eight-minute span starting in the 20th minute, but they never challenged Penedo.
After the break, the Galaxy created their two best chances, the penalty kick aside, in the next two minutes. Maganto delivered a beautiful cross for Alan Gordon at the right post, but Rimando got to it first, and then Keane chipped to the near post from the left side of RSL's box, but Gyasi Zardes' point-blank header was well off-target.
RSL had two good late opportunities involving Plata, but the forwad was unable to handle Kyle Beckerman's chip over the LA defense in the 81st minute, getting a touch to the ball that Penedo handled adroitly, and his attempt to connect with Garcia in the goalmouth from a counter was stopped by Omar Gonzalez.
The Galaxy nearly added a second on a weird play in stoppage time. Substitute Edson Buddle tried to play a ball from the right byline following a corner kick, and it went off Salt Lake defender Aaron Maund's foot and caromed off the right post.
RSL finished with 10 men after Olave was red-carded in the 91st minute for hitting Keane in the face.
RSL plays Saturday at Vancouver (6 pm ET, TSN1 in Canada, MLS Live in US), and the Galaxy visit New England on Sunday (7 pm ET, FOX Sports 1) in a rematch of December's MLS Cup title game.