LOS ANGELES — The biggest loss Real Salt Lake suffered Wednesday night had little to do with the result of its road game setback against L.A.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando — Major League Soccer's all-time leader in victories and shutouts — left at halftime of a 2-0 loss at the Banc of California Stadium with a strained left hamstring.
"It was pretty early in the game, too," RSL coach Mike Petke said. "His exact words pretty much were, 'It's going to go.'"
Rimando's possible prolonged absence could prove pivotal on the club's most important road stretch this season. RSL (10-10-5) will play at Houston on Saturday night — the club's third game in seven days — before facing Colorado on Aug. 25.
Making both road matches more critical is RSL's failure to enhance its position in the Western Conference standings Wednesday night with the Portland Timbers' loss to D.C. United.
Instead, LAFC (11-7-6) moved into a tie for second place with Sporting Kansas City. Both clubs are two points behind FC Dallas.
Andrew Putna, signed from the Real Monarchs on July 13, made his MLS debut and twice made sliding saves to stop Carlos Vela on 13-yard shots, in the 75th and 77th minutes, respectively.
"I thought he did very well," Petke said. "From a bad thing that Nick got hurt, it's almost a good thing that he went into a situation like that where he didn't have time to think."
"For sure," the 23-year old said. "Nick did get hurt in like the 11th minute, so, for 20 minutes, I was up, down, up, down. But once halftime came, I knew it was my turn to go in. I got a good 20 minutes to warm up and I was confident after the warmup."
But before Putna replaced Rimando, LAFC's Christian Ramirez had taken early control.
Ramirez, acquired Aug. 6 from Minnesota United for nearly $1 million in allocation money, scored his first goal in the 13th minute of his first start for his new club.
After Corey Baird fell over the ball, Vela secured it and sent a quick through ball to Ramirez, who used his first right-footed touch to beat Justen Glad, then used a right-footed poke to launch the ball into the upper-left corner of the net.
Then in the 30th minute, Ramirez scored again. Eduard Atuesta began the sequence by sending a cross from near the left corner after receiving Jordan Harvey's pass.
Vela allowed the ball to roll to an unmarked Ramirez, who converted from seven yards inside the near post for his ninth goal of the season.Comment on this story
RSL had two chances to break the shutout. After eluding three defenders, Sebastian Saucedo passed to Albert Rusnak, who avoided another tackle before firing a 20-yard line drive. But goalkeeper Tyler Miller lunged to deflect the ball with his left hand in the 41st minute.
Miller made another big save in the 66th minute when he used both fists while lunging to punch away Saucedo's 11-yard shot. Miller finished with his seventh shutout.
"We left Ramirez pretty much wide open on two goals," Petke said. "It was just two momentary lapses that cost us. It seems to be a theme, specifically on the road."
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that LAFC's second goal came in the 13th minute.