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Real Salt Lake defeated LA Galaxy on the road 2-1 for their fourth win at the Home Depot Center in 2012.
Three-goal halves are always enthralling to the neutrals, but with Real Salt Lake gaining the lead and going on to win after conceding the first goal in the 17th minute, it's the sizable away crowd that will have enjoyed that one more.
LA Galaxy without Todd Dunivant and A.J. DeLaGarza, RSL without Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson: These two sides came into the affair significantly weekend, though exactly who was worse off is hard to judge particularly.
For Real Salt Lake, it marks yet another occasion in which they are unable to field their ostensibly best eleven players. But the return of the enigmatic Borlave - the immensely capable Borchers-Olave pairing - surely boosted RSL's consideration going in.
"Really, there was no panic. We just kind of shrugged it off. When we play against these guys, we're throwing haymakers, they're throwing haymakers - it's a long game." — Kyle Beckerman
The affair started hot and didn't let up until referee Baldomero Toledo - well, well past his competency level on the night - blew for the half.
Robbie Keane opened the scoring with a stunning strike from the left side of the box. The ball flung in from the right side by Juninho set him up perfectly, and there was nothing much to be done about it by Real Salt Lake - besides issuing a big response.
Fabian Espindola wasn't satisfied - he rarely is, with his drive and motivation unrivaled - and he responded not once but twice with goals. His first: the through ball from Alvaro Saborio found him free in the box, and he scored with aplomb. His second: the lob from Javier Morales found him in the box, and with Alvaro Saborio drawing three defenders with him, Fabian flicked the ball perfectly into the net.
The second half turned chippy and frustrating: no goals, plenty of fouls, and some continued difficult moments on both sides of the ball. Jason Kreis was looking to hold the win and put his side on a continued winning streak. The substitutions felt defensive: Chris Schuler on for Beltran (perhaps owing to a yellow card), Yordany Alvarez for Jonny Steele - but the last one was a bit more odd, with Paulo Jr. on for Javier Morales.
It was that one that was the masterstroke from Jason Kreis. In the dying minutes, Real Salt Lake went from scrambling to get the ball away to having a third genuine attacking option. In stoppage time, Paulo Jr. came on, RSL's speed picked up, and there was no way back for LA Galaxy.
A good win on the night: Real Salt Lake looked closer to their best than they have in ages. Kyle Beckerman the midfield fulcrum, Espindola the darting striker, Olave and Borchers the inimitable tandem.
If these two meet in the playoffs, neutrals will be well-advised to tune in.