Real Salt Lake lost 1-0 at LA Galaxy in the first leg of the MLS Western Conference semifinal, ensuring a competitive second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday.
LA Galaxy defender Sean Franklin opened the scoring from distance with an uncontested shot at the edge of the final third that smashed into the net. How exactly Franklin managed to remain unwatched is perhaps a slight mystery, but a bigger mystery is how exactly he capitalized with such strength from such distance.
Ned Grabavoy and Yordany Alvarez were taken out early in the second half, with Sebastian Velasquez and Robbie Findley entering to significantly change RSL's approach to the match. Devon Sandoval was an 80th minute substitute for Alvaro Saborio, and his energy certainly helped in the attacking half. Velasquez and Findley combined well with players around them, providing second-half attacking options that had been woefully absent in the first half.
The starting lineup for RSL featured five midfielders and Saborio as the sole striker, with the diamond forgone for more midfield flexibility and natural width, and perhaps as a result (or perhaps not,) LA Galaxy had chance after chance emerge. But with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane not near their peak, and Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers immense in their last-ditch defending, RSL managed to keep the match at a 1-0 scoreline moving forward.