SANDY, Utah (AP) — Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata each scored in the second half to help Real Salt Lake overcome a slow start to earn a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday night.
Real Salt Lake (16-10-8) clinched a top-two seed heading into the MLS playoffs. RSL can clinch the top seed in the west if Chivas beats or draws Portland on Saturday.
Chivas (6-19-8) threatened a late rally after a goal from reserve forward Julio Morales in the 77th minute, but the Goats couldn't bridge the gap and fell to RSL for the third time this season.
RSL got on board in the 49th minute when Saborio slotted a penalty kick inside the right post.
Salt Lake took a two-goal lead in the 52nd minute on Plata's goal. After a failed attack by Javier Morales, Plata collected the ball outside the 18-yard box and fired it down the middle, burying a low shot inside the left post.
"We know that we've been struggling to score goals lately and I think it's one of those situations where one comes, it's going to be coming in bunches," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "If you look at that game, we should have probably scored three at least, maybe four goals. On a different night we put those away and make the game easy for ourselves."
Morales scored when he got behind Tony Beltran and latched onto a long cross from Carlo Chueca. Morales drew goalie Nick Rimando off his line and slipped the ball past his left side for the goal.
"The players were respecting the opponent, but they didn't stop fighting," Chivas coach Jose Luis Real said. "We had very good possession against a very good team and the fight the guys put on the field was very remarkable."
Salt Lake controlled possession throughout the first half as Chivas USA packed the box on the defensive end to keep RSL off the scoreboard. It resulted in plenty of scoring opportunities for the home team before halftime — none of which RSL could finish.
Kyle Beckerman bent a free kick on the frame to force a corner kick in the 22nd minute. Beckerman played it as a short corner and worked the ball into the middle of the box. Yordany Alvarez headed a point-blank shot down the middle, but Chivas goalkeeper Tim Melia defended it perfectly.
Beckerman crossed the ball into the center of the box again in the 28th minute. This time, Saborio got a head on the ball and put it right on frame. But Melia dove low to his right and wrapped up the ball.
"I feel like every team comes here and they try to sit back," Javier Morales said. "We have to be smart and we have to be patient."