SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake on Thursday night booked its passage to the Western Conference Championship series, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-0 after extra time at Rio Tinto Stadium to move past the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup Champions by a 2-1 aggregate score.
RSL MF Sebastian Velasquez opened the scoring in the 35th minute, notching his first career goal to tie the aggregate at 1-1. RSL came agonizingly close to finding a second goal on several occasions in regulation, hitting the crossbar in the 74th minute, banging a shot off the post in the 78th and seeing a goal disallowed in the 85th minute before the match went into extra time. Claret-and-Cobalt DF Chris Schuler finally broke the deadlock in the 102nd minute, finishing a MF Javier Morales set piece to send RSL through.
Real Salt Lake will begin the Western Conference Final this Sunday, hosting the Portland Timbers in the series’ first leg at 7:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets to Sunday’s match will be on sale shortly at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700. Sunday’s match is not included in the 2013 RSL season ticket package.
The match got off to a quick start, with both sides registering early chances. RSL had the first look in the fifth minute, with Captain Kyle Beckerman hitting a shot from distance towards the lower-right corner that Galaxy GK Jaime Penedo held. LA had a pair of half chances in the seventh and 10th minutes. FW Robbie Keane had the first look, dragging a low left-footed effort just wide of the right post. MF Juninho had the second opportunity, curling a free kick over the wall from just inside the arc.
RSL had three half chances in the 11th, 16th and 21st minutes. The best chance came on the first look, with Beckerman picking up a loose corner kick in the left side of the box before chipping a cross to the top of the six, where FW Alvaro Saborio headed just wide.
LA had a good look in the 25th minute. MF Robbie Rogers collected a through ball in the right side of RSL’s box and hit a shot past RSL GK Nick Rimando and across the face of goal. Thankfully for RSL, no LA players were at the back post to tap the chance home.
Velasquez levelled the aggregate score in the 35th minute. The goal was beautifully constructed, beginning with MF Javier Morales finding unmarked DF Chris Wingert on the left flank. Wingert collected the ball, took a touch toward the end line and whipped in a fantastic cross, picking out the onrushing Velasquez at the top-left corner of the box. The 5-foot-7 Velasquez took it from there, brilliantly snapping a header inside the near post to put RSL on the board.
Things quieted down after Velasquez’s goal, with neither side registering anything of note until the 65th minute, when Rimando made a huge save to keep RSL on top. Rogers started the play, getting free in the left side of the box before dragging a ball on frame that Rimando stopped but couldn’t hold. The rebound fell to LA FW Landon Donovan at the top of the six and Rimando made a huge stop, somehow shimmying his way across the ground to block the U.S. international’s first-time effort.
Schuler put one off the crossbar in the 74th minute. The big center back got on the end of a Morales corner kick at the top-right corner of the six, cruelly flicking his header off the bar and out of danger.
Saborio hit the post just four minutes later. Substitute FW Olmes Garcia collected a through ball on the right side, dribbling at the Galaxy defense before getting dispossessed just outside the area. Saborio ran onto the loose ball and hit it with his first touch, slamming a low right-footer past Penedo and off the far post.
Referee Baldomero Toledo disallowed a Morales goal in the 84th minute. The Argentine playmaker curled a free kick in from the left flank near midfield, flying the set piece over the entire scrum, past a frozen Penedo and into the bottom-right corner. RSL players and fans immediately started celebrating what they thought was a good goal, but Toledo brought it back, controversially whistling Schuler for a foul on LA DF Omar Gonzalez.
Garcia had a chance to find the series winner in the first minute of stoppage time, but Penedo came up big, throwing his body into traffic to block Garcia’s close-range effort.
Real Salt Lake took the upper hand in extra time, with Schuler finding the tie-winner in the 102nd minute. Morales had the assist, curling a free kick in from the left flank that Schuler – who made a marvelous run from the top of the box – side-volleyed in from the right edge of the six. The goal was Schuler’s first of the season.
LA turned the pressure on in the final minutes, nearly equalizing on a couple of occasions and looking especially dangerous after Saborio went out injured, forcing RSL – which had already used all three of its subs – to play the final 10 minutes with 10 men.
In the end though, the Claret-and-Cobalt held fast to advance to the club’s fourth Conference Championship in the last six years.
RSL will host the Timbers in the Western Conference Championship first leg at 7:00 p.m. MT on Sunday. Tickets will be on sale shortly at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 2-0 (2-1) LA
- With tonight’s win over LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake advances to the Western Conference Championship series. RSL will host Portland Timbers in the first leg of the series on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. The playoff series will mark the first playoff meeting between the Claret-and-Cobalt and Portland Timbers.
- This is the fourth time in the last six years that RSL has advanced to the Conference Championship. RSL is 1-2 in the three previous occasions it advanced to the Conference Championship, falling to New York in the 2008 Western Conference Final, winning at Chicago in penalties in the 2009 East Final and falling 1-3 at LA in the 2011 West Final.
- RSL’s six-year run of postseason qualification is the longest active streak in the league and tied for the second-longest such streak in MLS history with the New York Red Bulls (2003-2008), trailing only the New England Revolution’s eight-year run (2002-2009).
- Real Salt Lake is now 11-12-6 all-time against LA Galaxy in MLS regular season and playoff action, posting a 6-3-4 all-time home record in Utah. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 2-2-2 all-time in the second leg of playoff series, advancing past those second legs on four of six occasions and is 5-6-5 in MLS playoffs all-time.
- Tonight’s match was the fourth playoff meeting between the two sides all-time. The Claret-and-Cobalt is now 2-2-0 against the Galaxy all-time in the postseason.
- Real Salt Lake went 1-2-0 against LA Galaxy in the 2013 MLS regular season and 1-1-0 in 2013 playoff action
- Real Salt Lake MF Javier Morales continued his success against the Galaxy tonight, notching an assist on Schuler’s winner. The Argentine playmaker now has five career goals and ten assists in 16 career regular season games against LA. Morales has recorded two goals and eight assists for the Claret-and-Cobalt in postseason action all-time.
- Sebastian Velasquez earned his first career MLS Cup Playoff start tonight. His 35th minute headed goal was his first ever career goal.
- RSL DF Chris Schuler’s goal in the 102nd minute marked the first of his season and the second of his career
- With tonight’s full shifts under their belts, Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando have played all 1,530 minutes in RSL’s 16-game playoff history
- RSL MF Ned Grabavoy was sidelined for tonight’s match with a left hamstring strain which he picked up in the first leg against LA Galaxy at StubHub Center. The 30-year-old Grabavoy had a career year in 2013, scoring five goals and tallying five assists in 32 appearances – 29 of which were starts – for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
- RSL FW Alvaro Saborio left the match in the second period of extra time after suffering a right hip flexor strain.
REAL SALT LAKE 2–0 (2-1) LA GALAXY
THURSDAY, NOV. 7, 2013
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 ET1 ET2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1 0 2
LA Galaxy 0 0 0 0 0
RSL – Sebastian Velasquez (Chris Wingert, Javier Morales) – 35’
RSL – Chris Schuler (Javier Morales) – 102’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Yellow; Foul) – 69’
RSL – Khari Stephenson (Yellow; Foul) – 97’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman (C), Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez (Khari Stephenson, 94’), Javier Morales (Cole Grossman, 105’); Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia, 76’)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Abdoulie Mansally, Joao Plata, Devon Sandoval
LA Galaxy (4-4-2): Jamie Penedo; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Kofi Opare (Jose Villareal, 106’), Todd Dunivant; Robbie Rogers (A.J. DeLaGarza, 75’), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas (Laurent Courtois, 111’), Gyasi Zardes; Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane (C)
Substitutes not used: Brian Rowe, Leonardo, Michael Stephens, Rafael Garcia
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry, Ian Anderson
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
Weather: Clear and 51 degrees