for this game

Movsisyan lifts Real Salt Lake past Chivas USA

Nov 2, 2008 - 1:50 AM By Tony Pizza PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- For nearly an hour and a half on Saturday, Real Salt Lake looked as if it was going to squander a chance to take an early lead at home in its first MLS playoff contest.

But in the 90th minute, the heel of Yura Movsisyan made sure RSL's effort didn't go for naught, as he scored the game-winner to give his team a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA in the first leg of this Western Conference semifinal series.

"(Yura) made things extremely difficult for (Chivas') two center backs all night," Real head coach Jason Kreis said. "It was good to see he was rewarded for all his hard work."

It was the second time in as many games that Movsisyan has scored a season-altering goal for RSL in the 90th minute. In the final game of the regular season, the team's leading scorer tallied a goal against the Colorado Rapids at the same point in the contest as RSL tied its Rocky Mountain rival and clinch the first playoff berth in franchise history.

"We seem to get it done," Movsisyan said. "Great guys in the locker room. Everyone put the effort in."

Saturday night's late goal was equally as important.

"It was similar (only) in that we scored a late goal," Kreis said. "The difference was this was one of our best games of all time."

With the second-half injury time just seconds away from being announced, Robbie Russell threw a ball in to Javier Morales, who kept possession near Chivas' end touch line. Somehow, Morales avoided losing the ball to two Chivas defenders and then slipped the ball across the box. Movsisyan redirected the ball with the flick of his right heel to the far end of the goal to give RSL a thrilling 1-0 lead in front of 14,719 fans in the home-and-home aggregate series.

"I was hoping Javi would get a ball across," Movsisyan said. "Fortunately for us, he was able to get it over to me."

The aggregate playoff system gives each team a home game. Instead of a winner being named after each 90-minute match, the scores from both legs of the series are combined to determine the triumphant side. The series resumes in Carson, California on November 8.

"For a moment it was going to be one of those days where we escape, not conceding a goal and putting ourselves in a good spot going home," Chivas head coach Preki said. "But one play off of the throw in, we fall asleep for a second, and it's 1-0."

If points were awarded for scoring chances, Real Salt Lake would have won handily after notching a 21-3 advantage in shots. As it stands, RSL did just enough to edge Chivas USA.

"We made a bold decision to play aggressive," Kreis said. "That's the first time I've seen a team be that aggressive for 90 minutes. I'm proud of that effort."

For most of the match, Chivas sat back and tried to weather the RSL attack and only got scoring opportunities on a handful of counter-attacks. Its best chance came in the 14th minute of play, but Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando easily made the save - his only one of the night. Chivas keeper Zach Thornton spent much more of the game on his toes, posting seven saves.

Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley nearly scored the game's first goal in the 83rd minute when veteran Clint Mathis won an unlikely ball near midfield. Mathis played the ball and found Findley unmarked. Findley sprinted toward the goal but his shot was sprayed wide left of the frame.

RSL's other quality scoring opportunity came in the 49th minute when Morales put a corner attempt on the head of Nat Borchers. The RSL defender's redirected shot actually beat Thornton, but was cleared by Chivas midfielder Ante Razov, who was guarding the inside post.

"I thought Zach was solid," Preki said. "He made some big saves for us and kept us in the game on a couple of occasions."

Chivas had to ward off several RSL scoring chances as the home team came out as the clear aggressors. Morales put several of his teammates in scoring position off corner kicks, and eventually got RSL's first playoff assist in the 90th minute.

"I think the person guarding Javier Morales fell asleep a little and he played a great ball in," Kreis said.