Real Salt Lake (15-8-11, 56 points, West #3) finished the 2014 regular season with a thorough performance against Chivas USA (8-19-6, 30 points, West #8), shutting out its 2005 expansion partner 2-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,665 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
FW Alvaro Saborio scored on a first-half penalty and MF Kyle Beckerman added a second-half goal while GK Nick Rimando earned his seventh shutout of the season, extending RSL’s shutout streak to three consecutive matches.
FW Joao Plata nearly got RSL out to an early lead in the fifth minute, hitting a first-time shot off a ball from MF Luke Mulholland, but missed high over the crossbar.
In the 12th minute, Chivas GK Dan Kennedy stopped a shot from Saborio, who rose in traffic to get his head on a cross from Plata.
RSL had another near-miss in the 19th minute when Plata found Mulholland for a diving header at the far post, but it missed just off frame and the match remained scoreless.
In the 35th minute, Real Salt Lake was awarded a penalty when Saborio was felled in the box on a free kick from MF Javier Morales, drawing referee Fotis Bozakos to point to the spot.
Saborio drove his penalty hard into the bottom corner of the net to Kennedy’s right while the goalkeeper dove left, netting the eighth goal of the season for Saborio in the 36th minute to give RSL the 1-0 lead.
Morales nearly made it 2-0 in the 39th minute when he slotted in a first-time shot off a cross from the right side, but he was flagged offside and the apparent goal was waved off.
The score remained 1-0 until halftime, and RSL outshot Chivas 8-2, with neither effort threatening Rimando.
Early in the second half, Chivas USA MF Marvin Chavez was shown a straight red card when he played the ball into an assistant referee after the whistle, putting RSL up a man for the final 34 minutes.
RSL took advantage in the 74th minute when Beckerman notched his third goal of the season on an assist from Plata. The initial shot from Plata was blocked, but he recovered possession, then played Beckerman in up the left side of the box. Beckerman coolly placed his shot past the oncoming Kennedy for a 2-0 lead.
Salt Lake saw out that lead to close out the regular season with an 11-1-5 home record.
RSL now awaits its postseason fate. The victory sprung RSL into third place in the Western Conference, two points clear of fourth-place FC Dallas. If Dallas loses or draws on Saturday against the Portland Timbers at Toyota Stadium, then RSL will finish in third position and meet the No. 2 team (either the LA Galaxy or Seattle Sounders FC) in the Western Conference Semifinal. If Dallas wins, then RSL will finish fourth and play against either the Timbers or Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Knockout Round.
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