CARSON, California — Joao Plata scored in the 80th minute, Nick Rimando stopped Robbie Keane's penalty kick in stoppage time and Real Salt Lake opened with a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night in Jeff Cassar's head coaching debut for the Utah club.
"Feels great," said Cassar, a long-time Real Salt Lake assistant coach who took charge after Jason Kreis left to become head coach at New York City FC, which is aiming for a 2015 inaugural season. "What I'm most excited about is the fight that the team had. We came in at halftime and just said, 'Relax, 0-0, exactly where we want to be,' and the energy level, the effort, in the second half was just fantastic."
Plata, open in the middle of the Galaxy box, scored off Kyle Beckerman's pass four minutes after Luke Mulholland's apparent goal was ruled offside.
Keane, the Galaxy captain, had a chance to tie the score in the 93rd minute after Tony Beltran undercut Rob Friend as he leaped for a long ball from Omar Gonzalez. Rimando, who included several spectacular stops among his nine saves, dived to his right to deny Keane at the post.
"Today was one of those days the ball seemed a little bigger," Rimando said. "I knew what Keane was going to do. He likes to stutterstep, but I stood my ground and just reacted."
Keane hit the right post and Landon Donovan was denied on a 1-on-1 opportunity in the first half for Los Angeles, which had a 27-9 advantage in shots.
"We had some good chances, we didn't finish any of our chances, and the penalty at the end of the game," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "What can you say? Those are wasted chances. We should have gotten at least a point out of this game."
The game was a rematch of a Western Conference semifinal series last year that was one by RSL, which fell to Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup final.