Sean Franklin puts Galaxy past Real Salt Lake 1-0
Although the Los Angeles Galaxy opened their MLS title defense
with the result Landon Donovan wanted, he’s hoping they don’t
regret their missed chances to make it even better.
Sean Franklin scored on a dramatic 27-yard strike just after
halftime, and the Galaxy began their run at a third straight league
championship with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Sunday night
in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
Franklin’s first goal in more than five months provided a small
advantage for the third-seeded Galaxy when the clubs head to Utah
on Thursday for the second leg.
The Galaxy were good, dominating possession and effectively
shuttering Real’s attack, but they could have been even better.
Donovan and Robbie Keane had numerous chances up front throughout
the match, but repeatedly failed to provide additional cushion for
”We put a lot of pressure on them throughout the night, so
there’s going to be some cracks,” Donovan said. ”Robbie and I
need to do a better job with our counterattacks. Usually we’re
better than that. I have a feeling we’re going to have a lot more
chances Thursday as the game goes on as they open up and expose
themselves, and we’re fine with that.”
Jaime Penedo posted his fifth shutout in 10 MLS matches for the
Galaxy, who are in search of their league-record fifth MLS Cup
Los Angeles is trying to become the first MLS team to win three
consecutive titles despite losing two key components of its
previous championship teams: star midfielder David Beckham and
goal-scorer Mike Magee. The Galaxy are in prime position to make
that run, but a couple of extra goals would have helped from an
otherwise one-sided game.
Keane barely missed a goal on a breakaway in the 85th minute,
pushing a low shot just wide of the far post. The Irish
international star scored 16 MLS goals for the second straight
”We certainly left a few chances out there, but we can’t score
every time,” Keane said. ”I wasn’t connecting with the ball
properly. You have nights like this. It’s not something I’m going
to lose any sleep over.”
Salt Lake, which had a four-game unbeaten streak and a lengthy
break before the playoffs, might have a sleepless night after an
ineffective performance at StubHub Center. Los Angeles largely
controlled the flow against second-seeded Salt Lake in a matchup of
franchises with three of the last four MLS titles between them.
”On a different night, Keane and Donovan are going to kill you
on those,” Real coach Jason Kreis said. ”We weren’t good enough.
We gave the ball away cheaply so many times in so many dangerous
spots. … Players need to be better. We’re just missing some
simple passes. Our better players need to be better, and they
Keane and Donovan both missed on impressive runs in the opening
minutes, and Real’s Chris Schuler slid in from behind to knock the
ball off Donovan’s foot at the goalmouth in the 42nd minute.
But Franklin thrilled the Galaxy’s lively sellout crowd in the
47th minute when he collected an errant pass from Keane well
outside the penalty area and put a rocket of a shot inside Nick
Rimando’s left post.
Franklin, a stalwart defender, hadn’t scored since May 26.
”The ball just came out on top of the box, and I had time and
space to hit it,” Franklin said. ”Once I opened my eyes up, the
ball was in the back of the net.”
Real had its best chance in the 80th minute, but substitute
forward Devon Sandoval fell down on contact with a Los Angeles
defender while closing in on Luis Gil’s pass in front of the Galaxy
Los Angeles entered the playoffs unbeaten in four straight games
after allowing just one goal in its entire October schedule. The
Galaxy have never lost in the two-leg conference semifinals since
MLS adopted the playoff format in 2003, advancing eight times.
These clubs met in the MLS Cup final in 2009, with Real Salt
Lake winning its only league title on penalty kicks.