Mike Magee and rookie Charlie Rugg both found the back of the net against RSL inside the opening 13 minutes and untested goalkeeper Brian Rowe came up big on a few occasions in his pro debut to make sure he grabbed his clean sheet and that the young Galaxy side went back home with all three points. The win moved LA to 4-1-2 on the year and dropped Real Salt Lake to 3-4-2.
"It's a tough one," said RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "We just weren't on our toes. Just like last year, we lost some focus a couple of times and a team like that will make you pay."
Both teams played without some of their top players. The Galaxy were missing Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Todd Dunivant and Carlo Cudicini while RSL lost forwards Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Findley to injuries sustained during pre-game warm-ups.
Even without their key veterans, LA did not seem to miss a beat. Magee beat Tony Bletran to a spot just outside the six-yard box and deftly headed a ball sent in from a free kick by Juninho past a helpless Nick Rimando in the sixth minute and things only got better from there for the visitors.
"We're going to continue to try and improve on what we're doing," said head coach Jason Kreis. "We need to be more mindful of our possession, and we have to start the game better. Tonight for me the whole game was lost in the first 15 minutes."
In the 13th minute, Rugg doubled the defending champs' lead. After some quality hold-up play from Marcelo Sarvas, the midfielder sent the ball out to the right side to Hector Jimenez, who hit a hard one-time bullet across the middle to a streaking Rugg. The 22-year-old forward, who was making his own pro debut, outraced Beltran to the ball and hammered home the ball from close range for his first career goal.
Giving a team that defends as well as the Galaxy a two-goal lead pretty much decided the game before the quarter-hour mark, as LA put as many as seven and eight men back in the box to defend.
RSL were able to possess the ball for long stretches but they were unable to break down the compact and well-positioned Galaxy defense, settling instead for shots from distance that sporadically challenged Rowe.
As the match played out, the stats were heavily in RSL's favor but the Galaxy protected their lead well thanks to the defense of the likes of Sean Franklin and Omar Gonzalez. On the few occasions that Real Salt Lake did pose a threat, poor finishing usually cost the hosts.
"The whole game was frustrating," said defender Chris Schuler. "You never want to give up goals at home and that's what happened. We're always trying to get the result at home and it didn't happen tonight. I think any professional who would hold themselves to a high standard would not be excited right now."
RSL will next play the last match of their three-game homestand next Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The game will be televised on CW30 beginning at 7:00 p.m.