RSL nets its first goal of the season
Trotting out a lineup of relative youngsters, the Claret-and-Cobalt were on the front foot early, as midfielder Sebastian Saucedo’s third-minute cross from the left touchline picked out the right foot of Liverpool transfer Brooks Lennon. Lennon redirected the ball toward Clement Diop’s goal but missed the top left corner by inches.
But with continued pressure in the attacking third, RSL soon struck first. Yura Movsisyan opened the scoring for the home side in the 18th minute. Newly acquired attacking midfielder Albert Rusnak swung in a 30-yard cross from the right flank, placing the ball precisely onto Movsisyan’s forehead at the penalty spot, and the Armenian lined his header to the back post past a diving Diop. The goal broke a home scoring drought of 4 games extending back to September 16, 2016, when former RSL striker Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez notched a stoppage time equalizer against the visiting Galaxy.
Beckerman dismissal buoys Galaxy attack
But RSL’s encouraging start was compromised just before halftime, when Kyle Beckerman, who had received a yellow card in the 34th minute for dissent, picked up a second yellow from center referee Sorin Stoica for a foul near the center circle on Galaxy midfielder Joao Pedro.
Playing a man up for the entire second half, Los Angeles enjoyed a three-to-one possession margin, and although the visitors lacked the sharpness to capitalize on their early second-half chances, the Galaxy ultimately broke through in the 69th minute. Defender David Romney found himself entirely unmarked 10 yards from goal on a corner kick. Romain Alessandrini’s cross fell perfectly to Romney’s left foot, and the third-year player notched his first MLS goal with a first-time volley that left goalkeeper Nick Rimando without a chance to react.
Despite the disadvantage created by Beckerman’s red card, the short-handed home team nearly went ahead again in the 71st minute, when Lennon played a sumptuous ball across the six-yard box to an open Chad Barrett at the back post. But Barrett was unable to coordinate his feet to meet the pass in stride, and the result was a weak deflection out for a goal kick.
Los Angeles made RSL pay for Barrett’s missed sitter in the 74th minute. After a series of defensive miscues resulted in a failed clearance from RSL’s penalty area, Alessandrini recovered the loose ball on RSL’s end line and crossed it to the back post, where an unmarked Emmanuel Boateng calmly slotted home the winner. The goal was Boateng’s fifth since joining the Galaxy, with all five coming against Real Salt Lake.
“He killed the game”
RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland expressed frustration after the match with what he perceived to be poor officiating from center referee Sorin Stoica.
“The referee’s just a joke, that’s all I’m gonna say. He killed the game, he killed the game,” Mulholland said. “One of their players absolutely smashes Beckerman and ends up giving two of our players a yellow card, and that’s one that ended up costing us.”
Mulholland’s sentiment was echoed by RSL color commentator Brian Dunseth.
“The reality is this was a poor performance from the referee,” said Dunseth. “The amount of text messages that I’ve been getting from players, current players, ex-players, referees. The standard of what we saw tonight, it was embarrassing. There was no rhythm to the game, the plot was lost early, and it’s just not good enough.”
While the Galaxy were whistled for 8 more fouls on the night (18 to RSL's 10), RSL received 3 more yellow cards (5 including Beckerman’s second yellow, with only 2 to Los Angeles). Questionable yellow card decisions were not limited on the night to the men in red: Stoica also showed yellow to the Galaxy’s Alessandrini for persistent infringement after a foul on Rusnak, although to that point Rusnak had only been fouled twice, and Alessandrini had only been whistled for two unintentional handballs.
Real Salt Lake, seeking to end a 10-game winless stretch dating back to an August 26, 2016, win against the Colorado Rapids, crosses the country next week for a visit to Red Bull Arena. The team will be without Rimando and Rusnak, both of whom will be away on national team duty, while Beckerman will also miss the trip due to red card suspension.
Los Angeles will have next week off before traveling to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 1.