CARSON, Calif. — In the midst of its longest winless streak in four years, the last thing Real Salt Lake needed Saturday night was to lose a starter to a red card after 24 minutes while holding a 1-0 advantage.
Yet Real not only broke that streak but also a second one lasting eight consecutive road games with a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA in front of 14,127 fans at the Home Depot Center.
That victory, combined with Colorado's 2-0 loss to Chicago, puts RSL (11-7-6) within two points of the Rapids for the top wild-card spot in Major League Soccer's playoffs.
For Real coach Jason Kreis, collective self-confidence made the difference.
"It takes a lot of belief, a lot of willingness to play as a unit," Kreis said. "To be through the stretch we've just been through, I think 80, 90 percent of the teams in our league couldn't have been as mentally strong as our group was tonight."
Alvaro Saborio scored the only goal in the 11th minute by exploiting a defensive mistake.
Chivas USA's Ante Jazic sent a pass from the left flank at the midfield stripe back to his own end. Saborio beat Chivas USA's David Junior Lopes to the ball, avoided Lopes's tackle, rounded goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and deposited a 10-yard shot into an empty net for his seventh goal this year.
Chivas USA (7-10-10) had two chances to tie it up in the ensuing seven minutes. But RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando dived to his left to block Jorge Flores' 8-yard shot in the 13th minute, then watched Juan Pablo Angel's 18-yard side volley hit the crossbar in the 18th minute.
But the visitors had to play with 10 men after Nat Borchers received a red card in the 24th minute. Borchers dragged Nick LaBrocca down by the jersey on a wide-open scoring attempt.
After Borchers' ejection, Rimando needed to make only two more saves for his 12th shutout.
In the 38th minute, Rimando caught LaBrocca's flick-on header from five yards off Flores' left-wing cross. Then in the 78th minute, Rimando deflected Angel's low, curving 26-yard line drive.3 comments on this story
Real's defense held Chivas USA to just three total shots — only one of them on goal — in the second half after conceding 10 total shots in the first half.
"After we got them in at halftime, all the players had a really good idea of how we wanted to defend," Kreis said. "Guys have to have a real sense of the passes they're going to allow and the one they're not going to allow.
"On top of that, they'e got to work extremely hard."
Jamison Olave make his first start since July 23 and played all 90 minutes.