CARSON, Calif. Atiba Harris played in 21 games for Real Salt Lake last year, but he did more Saturday night in a Chivas USA uniform than than he did in any of those 21 appearances for RSL he scored a goal.
Harris, best known for his red card against Real Madrid during his time in Salt Lake City, burned his old team with what turned out to be a the game-winning goal as Chivas USA knocked off RSL 3-1 in front of 17,251 fans at the Home Depot Center.
His goal came on a great build-up and cross from Sacha Kljestan, which at the time put Chivas USA in front 2-0 in the 55th minute.
RSL managed to pull a goal back just two minutes later as Kenny Deuchar calmly headed home a Javier Morales free kick in the 57th minute to trim Chivas' lead to 2-1. It was the Scottish striker's first goal with RSL in what was also his first start in Major League Soccer.
Throughout Real's ultimately futile comeback attempt in the final half hour Deuchar's size was a dangerous weapon with his flick-on headers, which created a handful of other opportunities.
RSL's best chance to equalize after Deuchar's goal occurred in the 63rd minute, just three minutes after Yura Movsisyan entered the match for the ineffective Robbie Findley. Following a missed clearance in the box by Chivas, Movsisyan found himself in the perfect position to punish the mistake, but his header toward the open net was barely tipped away by recovering Chivas keeper Brad Guzan.
A different ex-RSL player, Alecko Eskandarian, tacked on Chivas' last goal, a stoppage time breakaway finish past Nick Rimando who saved a breakaway from Chivas midfielder Paulo Nagamura only a few minutes earlier. Eskandarian was listed as out on Chivas' preliminary injury report earlier this week, but he entered the game as a 77th minute substitute.
The loss kept Salt Lake winless in seven matches against Chivas at the Home Depot Center with an 0-6-1 record, but more importantly dropped the club to 0-1-1 in the young 2008 season. Chivas, meanwhile, improved to 1-0-1.
Pulling out a win was always going to be a tricky proposition for RSL against a team that owned a 10-1-4 record at home last year.
Maykel Galindo, who had his breakout game against Real Salt Lake with two goals in a 4-0 Chivas win early last season, found a way to torment RSL in a different way Saturday, this time by registering the assist on the game's first goal in the 32nd minute.
After freeing himself from a weak challenge in midfield by Carey Talley, Galindo took two touches into the open space and played a perfectly weighted diagonal ball up field for a streaking Kljestan. The Chivas midfielder got there a fraction of a second before Real keeper Nick Rimando, who was charging off his line, and one-timed the ball into the back of the net, putting Chivas ahead 1-0.
RSL nearly equalized just three minutes later. In fact, based on the build-up and the positioning of Deuchar when he received Findley's cross it's still puzzling how the Scottish striker didn't finish. Findley's driven cross went untouched and rolled through the box as Deuchar and a Chivas defender made a far post run. They seemed to get there simultaneously, but somehow the ball popped over the crossbar from just a few yards out.Outside of Galindo's goal and about three or four really bad giveaways in midfield by Talley, RSL played fairly well in the first half, possessing the ball for long stretches. Its best chance to capitalize on the possession came in the 14th minute, when Kyle Beckerman ran onto a through ball from Javier Morales, but he sent the shot over the crossbar.