Jason Kreis has been on his team all season about coming out on fire for the first 25 minutes. The first 25 minutes of Saturday night's match were hot for sure — just not for the home team.
Before the 14th minute had come, L.A. was up on Real Salt Lake 2-0. The first half ended that way before L.A. parked the proverbial bus in its box in the second half. RSL coach Jason Kreis tried to break through by shifting to a 3-5-2 formation with about 30 minutes left, but while Salt Lake had many opportunities at goal, none went RSL's way and the club lost 2-0 Saturday night.
Nick Rimando (GK) Rimando had a tough night, but not necessarily due to any lack of quality on his part. His defense struggled to keep L.A. out of his box in the first half. Two miscues by Tony Beltran gave L.A. two shots that Rimando had no chance saving. Once L.A. scored, it dropped back and rarely presented a challenge the rest of the game, other than a few hurried pass backs — and one major chance that Rimando saved. That save resulted when L.A.'s Sean Franklin got a fast-break ball played to him in an empty 18-yard box. Rimando denied Franklin, however, by closing down the shot for what will likely be yet another save-of-the-week contender. GRADE: A
Tony Beltran (DEF) Saturday was not Beltran's night. He started the game by getting beat in the fifth minute when Mike Magee perfectly timed a jump in the six-yard box off a Juninho free kick to head it over a grounded Beltran, who could do nothing to keep it out of the net. Beltran fell victim again in the 13th minute when, while trying to keep L.A.'s Charlie Rugg in an offside position even though Lovel Palmer was clearly keeping him on, he ended up a step behind Rugg. L.A. forward Jack McBean then sent a low cross into the box that Rugg had no trouble slotting past Rimando. Beltran looked for revenge in the 31st minute when he blasted a 25-yard rocket at L.A. 'keeper Brian Rowe, but sometimes revenge is bitter. No goal. GRADE: C-
Chris Schuler (DEF) Schuler was in the right place at the right time all game long, especially when it came to defending headers. His passing, however was not. Numerous times he unnecessarily created dangerous situations with poor passes. Thanks to veteran play from his defensive partner Nat Borchers, however, the mistakes never provided L.A. with anything more than a few moments of excitement. Grade: B-
Nat Borchers (DEF) Borchers was an iron man Saturday, taking massive hits all night, including a vicious one from McBean that sent the RSL defender flying. Borchers got right back up but McBean ended up leaving the game with a broken collarbone. Borchers' positioning was excellent as always and his effort over the last 30 minutes was terrific while holding down the fort after Kreis went to a 3-5-2 formation to try to break L.A.'s defense down. GRADE: A
Lovel Palmer (DEF) Palmer started his third game of the season in place of usual starter Chris Wingert. His play has been solid, but when he went into a slide tackle with his spikes up in the 19th minute it didn't matter that he didn't touch L.A. midfielder Hector Jimenez. Palmer was still shown a yellow card. He settled in the rest of the game and was adequate playing into Real's attack during the second half. GRADE: B
Ned Grabavoy (MID) Grabavoy was Mr. Effort Saturday night, hearkening back to his first days with RSL. It seemed wherever you looked on the field, Grabavoy was there. However, he struggled around Minute 75 to stay energized, right when Real needed to give L.A. its best effort. GRADE: B+
Kyle Beckerman (MID) Beckerman was a little out of sorts Saturday. After playing very well to begin the season, RSL's captain went out with a separated rib two games ago. Saturday, he came out a bit flat against the Galaxy, most likely due to his injury. He had a couple of decent distance shots and his cross into the box in stoppage time stopped most of the spectators' hearts by falling to Olmes Garcia's crossbar-doomed head. GRADE: B
Javier Morales (MID) Morales is officially back. Game speed back to normal? Check. Crafty as ever? Yep. Sending 60-yard crosses on a dime? You better believe it. Morales was Real's only real threat much of the night. His free kicks, crosses and runs into the box all kept the crowd wondering when a goal might come. GRADE: A, MAN OF THE MATCH
Luis Guil (MID) Gil knocked on the door several times during the first half of Saturday's match, his best coming in the 17th minute when Joao Plata won a gritty ball at the top of the 18-yard box and found Gil alone at the left angle of the box, where he skied the shot. Gil played one of his better games of the season, leaving a lot on the field before being subbed off in place of Sebastian Velasquez in the 73rd minute. GRADE: A-
Joao Plata (FWD) Plata, in for an injured Alvaro Saborio, nearly drew blood in return for L.A.'s fifth-minute goal with a rocket floating up and away from Rowe, who miraculously got a hand on it to push it over the crossbar. Plata was tough on L.A. all night, but his size became too much of a liability in the second half and Kreis subbed on the larger Devin Sandoval to replace him in the 63rd minute. GRADE: B+
Olmes Garcia (FWD) Garcia needs a higher crossbar! The striker started his RSL career by pinging the crossbar on his first touch. On Saturday he found the crossbar yet again — for the fourth time in three games. Garcia's speed was on display all night as he flat-out torched L.A.'s backline to track down several through balls into L.A.'s final third. Some turned into very good crosses, but most of the time the RSL attack was just a step slow getting into position to take advantage of his work. GRADE: A
Devin Sandoval (FWD, SUB 63') Sandoval came on in place of Plata in the 63rd minute to give the Claret and Cobalt more size and strength along the forward line. Sandoval struggled with his hold-up play given L.A.'s packed third of the field. He turned into a target forward late in the game, but though Morales, Velasquez and others were able to send balls his way, he was never able to quite get to any of them and ended up without a shot on goal. GRADE: B
Sebastian Velasquez (MID, SUB 73') Velasquez provided an immediate spark the moment he came on to the field in place of a winded Gil. Almost immediately he beat his defender to the endline and turned a perfect cross to the mouth of the goal. However, no RSL players were in position to take advantage — a theme for Saturday night's game. GRADE: AComment on this story
Yordany Alvarez (DEF, SUB 63') Alvarez was brought on with 30 minutes left to play in place of Palmer. Kreis put everything out there by shifting to a 3-5-2 formation. Alvarez pushed forward and played to the left of Beckerman. While his positioning was solid and his passes, when he got around to making them, were on target, his speed of play was far slower than RSL needed. Many times he would get caught just above the 18-yard box without any idea where to play the ball for momentum, keeping RSL from maximizing its chances in L.A.'s final third. GRADE: B-
Chris Higbee is the general manager for DeseretNews.com. He occasionally writes about Real Salt Lake.