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Real Salt Lake beats Chivas 1-0; Morales taken off field in stretcher

By Associated Press | Posted - May 7, 2011 at 5:44 p.m.


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SANDY, UTAH (AP) -- Will Johnson put in a high volley in the 87th minute and Real Salt Lake stretched its home unbeaten streak in MLS to 28 games with a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA on Saturday.

The winners held a two-man advantage when Johnson finally tapped in the decisive goal after reserve midfielder Collen Warner sent in a cross as Johnson streaked to the far post. The goal brought relief to the home team after seeing several chances get parried away by Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

"We just wanted that first goal as quickly as possible," Johnson said. "The longer it goes on, the more frustrated you get."

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Getting its fifth win of the season came at a cost for Salt Lake (5-1-0). Midfielder Javier Morales broke his left ankle in the 37th minute when Chivas USA forward Marcos Mondaini took down Morales with a hard tackle from behind. Morales landed awkwardly and could not get back up.

He was taken from the field on a stretcher to an ambulance and was examined at a nearby hospital. The two-time MLS all-star is expected to be sidelined four months.

Teammates were somber afterward.

"He's our best player," fellow midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "He's one of the best in the league. So it's not only bad for us, it's bad for the league he's not going to be playing."

With Morales playing such an integral role in the offense, RSL will need to adjust its approach to account for his absence. Defense will become a bigger emphasis to offset the loss of a key playmaker.

"We pride ourselves on defense," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "Even if Javi is in there, we have to play defense. Now we're going to have to do better possessing the ball."

Mondaini received a straight red card for a reckless tackle. Combined with Andrew Boyens earning a pair of yellow cards earlier in the half, it gave RSL a two-man advantage over Chivas going into the second half.

The advantage did not seem to matter for a while. Salt Lake pressed and produced plenty of scoring chances against its short-handed opponent. Real had eight shots on goal compared to a single shot on goal for Chivas. But until Johnson's strike, Real could not find a way to finish things.

RSL coach Jason Kreis is confident the team has enough depth to replace Morales. The bigger concern for Kreis is seeing Real emerge from a mental cloud that has been hanging over the team since a heartbreaking loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League title game.

Kreis said his team is not playing with the fire or passion needed to be successful over the long haul.

"We need to come out of this funk," Kreis said. "I don't think that performance showed we're out of this funk."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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