LA Galaxy are bounced from playoffs with loss to Real Salt Lake
SANDY, UTAH (BDCi) — Behind goals from a player who had never scored an MLS goal before and a defender who spent most of 2013 rehabbing an injury, Real Salt Lake rose to the occasion and eliminated two-time defending champion LA Galaxy with a 2-0 extra time win on Thursday night.
In the 35th minute, midfielder Sebastian Velasquez gave Real Salt Lake the goal it needed to bring the two-match Western Conference Semifinals even on aggregate. In the 102nd minute, Chris Schuler took a free kick from Javier Morales om the left flank and buried it in the far corner of the net to send the home team to the Western Conference Finals despite playing most of the second half of extra time with 10 men due to an injury to Alvaro Saborio.
The win at Rio Tinto Stadium gave Real Salt Lake a 2-1 win on aggregate after a 1-0 loss at Stub Hub Center on Sunday.
RSL left the Galaxy fortunate they didn’t give up more than one goal on Sunday and the Galaxy made it through two-thirds of Thursday’s match with the same kind of luck as RSL easily could have scored multiple times.
RSL abandoned its 4-5-1 defensive formations it employed through two-thirds of Sunday’s loss. coming out in its familiar diamond midfield that paid dividends from the start. RSL controlled the run of play for most of the first 35 minutes, managing to fend off a number of dangerous Galaxy counter-attacks.
However, despite their chances and intense pressure after the goal, LA couldn’t get the ball in the net. The Galaxy had only one shot on target in 90-plus minutes of regulation.
Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo kept his team in the game with some smart play and nice saves and he got some help from the goalposts. A Schuler header hit the crossbar in the 75th minute and three minutes later, Alvaro Saborio put a shot off the post.
Also what appeared to be a series-winning goal by RSL sparkplug Javier Morales on an amazing free kick from 40 plus yards out that touched no one before going into the net, was negated on a foul call by referee Baldomero Toledo on Schuler for apparently tugging on Omar Gonzalez’s jersey.
The victory was revenge like for Real Salt Lake, snapping a streak of disappointment on their home turf. RSl had chances to win the 2008 Western Conference title, a 2010 Conference Semifinal, the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League and this year’s U.S. Open Cup championship in Rio Tinto Stadium and came up short every time.
Real Salt Lake will face the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Finals in a two-legged series that begins Sunday.