BY JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA had their first home game in a month, and faced an opponent that went a man down after a first-half red card, but the Goats couldn't capitalize on the advantage as a crucial defensive error and inept offense kept Chivas USA from gaining ground in the playoff race.
Real Salt Lake entered Saturday night's match badly needing a win as well, having lost four of five matches, and Alvaro Saborio helped deliver the victory, scoring on a defensive blunder by Chivas USA to give RSL a 1-0 victory at Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
Saborio scored the only goal of the match after pouncing on a sloppy backpass from Ante Jazic and beating Dan Kennedy.
"[It was] a sloppy pass my me," admitted Jazic. "I put [David Junior Lopes] in a bad position and then I thought he was going to make the play but the ball kind of bounced up on him. It was something that shouldn’t have happened."
RSL pride themselves in creating and forging scoring opportunities and goals, but Head Coach Jason Kreis spends more time training his side on capitalize on the opponents mistakes.
"It’s a big part of what we want to be," Kreis said. "We try to win as many ball as the opponents have, to capitalize on their mistake, win the ball on their half and put the ball in back of the net is what we’re after."
Everything was going RSL’s way until the 25th minute, when Nat Borchers drew a red card for taking down Nick LaBrocca right outside the penalty area. Borchers was the last defender and admitted fault.
"It was a situation where I put myself in at the referee’s mercy," explained Borchers. "In that first touch LaBrocca positioned himself well and he was in on goal so I fouled him. I didn’t see where [Tony] Beltran was at the time I fouled LaBrocca. It could have been a yellow card, but I am definitely to blame for it.
Despite being a man up for over two-thirds of the game, the Rojiblancos weren’t able to capitalize. Juan Pablo Angel rang one off the crossbar but that was all the home team was able to muster.
The loss was a costly one for Chivas USA, and not just because of the missed chance to gain ground on the other teams competing for playoff places. Standout defender Heath Pearce left the match with a hamstring injury and will go for an MRI on Monday. The injury is likely to keep Pearce from joining the U.S. men's national team training camp after having been called in for the team's upcoming friendlies vs. Costa Rica and Belgium.