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RSL topple defending champion Galaxy after extra time, head to Conference final

Sebastian Velasquez

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SANDY, Utah – It took two goals from unlikely sources, but Real Salt Lake finally won a major match at home.

The LA Galaxy led the aggregate heading into this game 1-0 but it was RSL that got two critical goals from midfielder Sebastian Velasquez and defender Chris Schuler, the latter coming in extra time to seal the 2-0 victory and 2-1 aggregate victory for the home side.

Head Coach Jason Kreis did not mince words when he described the importance of the result.

“It’s huge,” Kreis said. “I think it should build an incredible amount of momentum for us, an incredible amount of confidence and positivity. To get that goal in the first half I think was giant for us. I think it took a big, big monkey off our backs.”

In the 35th minute, Chris Wingert was sprung down the right flank of LA’s defense and played a beautiful cross into the box where Velasquez was waiting. The diminutive Colombian surprisingly rose up and nodded the ball past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and into the net to tie the series and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

“I really was surprised I was by myself,” Velasquez said. “When you see a kid with a rat tail that’s 5’5”, heading the ball into the back of the net is not the easiest thing. It was just a lucky thing and it’s a moment that I’m always going to cherish.”

RSL’s second goal came in 102nd minute of extra time and it was a stunner.

After an earlier free-kick goal from RSL’s Javier Morales was disallowed, he once again stood over the ball and sent a dangerous ball to the back post where Schuler was able to run onto it. The 6’4” defender laid out and got a boot to the cross from a tight angle and sent the ball into the back of the net taking the 2-1 series aggregate lead.

The match had its moments of controversy. The biggest among them was the curiously disallowed goal from RSL in the 84th minute. It looked as if Morales had scored a goal after his free kick soared over everyone and bounced into the back of the net. The crowd erupted in cheers, thinking that their team had taken the lead, but referee Baldomero Toledo waived off the goal for what was later described as a foul committed by Schuler on Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez.

The decision fortunately didn’t affect the outcome of the game with RSL picking up the victory, but credit largely goes to the RSL defense and Chris Schuler for stymying everything the Galaxy threw at them.

“[Schuler] was fantastic,” RSL defender Nat Borchers said. “Well-deserved man of the match. He covered really well and won everything in the air. His distribution was really solid. I’m really proud of him. I thought he did a great job.”

There were some tense moments in the final minutes of the match. RSL’s stalwart forward, Alvaro Saborio, went down with an injury and left the home side down a man to close out the match with about 10 minutes left.

10 minutes to advance to the Western Conference Final. 10 minutes to exorcise the big-game ghosts that have been haunting Rio Tinto since the Champion’s League final loss. The Galaxy threw everything they had at the depleted home side only to come up short as they did all game long and mercifully the final whistle blew and RSL had done it.

It took an entire team effort of defending to keep the defending MLS Cup Champions off the score sheet

“We really talked about it yesterday and today,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “If we’re going to have a chance of winning this game, we gotta have 11 guys on there that’s gonna fight for the guy next to you. No matter what happens, he’s gonna run for the other and he’ll run for the next guy. That’s what happened tonight. When we do that, we can be successful.”

RSL will now host the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the conference final on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. Portland hosts the second leg at 9 p.m. ET on Nov. 24 as they look to build on the momentum of this victory



  1. Really classy for the guys who earn 20 – 40x more salary than most of their teamates to throw them under the bus…. If you’re making that much… You can step up and accept responsibility

  2. Is anyone really surprised about that terrible call? Everyone should know with Toledo as ref, something like that is bound to happen. Why that guy is still a ref is a mystery.

  3. Don’t worry Galaxy Nation. I hear that Bruce is going to offload that worthless Keane guy to obtain the rights to Freddy Adu. Once the deadly Adu, Rodgers pairing is on the field nothing can stop us! Next year’ trophy has our name on it!

  4. well, the run had to end at some point. upset we didn’t win but we’ve done just fine over the last few years. RSL finally was able to win at home, so good for them. the disallowed goal was tough, but Omar’s arm was being tugged on the entire play. he let the ref make a decision. and there were a few RSL players offside, granted the AR didn’t put his flag up. entertaining game though, congrats RSL.

    i’ll be hoping for a Portland/Sporting final.

    • Being in offside position isn’t a foul if you’re not involved in the play – and no one was involved in the play except Javi on the disallowed goal, so…the “offside” excuse rings hollow. And as Twellman said on the broadcast, if that’s a foul from Schuler, then Omar should’ve been called 10 times in the first leg for the same thing, no…

      This is why they should do a video review on goals. Wouldn’t take longer than the celebration, and it’d keep legitimate goals like this one (and the LA goal against the Sounders recently) from being waved off.

      • 1. they were absolutely involved in the play. they’re standing right in front of Penedo.
        2. I don’t care what TT says, two wrongs don’t make a right.
        3. Not a terrible idea.

        either way, i think RSL deserved it and i DO think they were hard done by on that disallowed goal. but my POINT is that he let the ref make a decision by tugging Omar’s arm the entire run. that’s all. clearly he made up for it!

      • This comment is purely academic, as this was not the call, and it did not necessarily influence the out come of the game but…

        I think offside would have been a proper call. There were 3 different RSL players in an offside position when Morales plays the ball. At least one of them goes in from this position and “block, deceive, or distract” Pinedo: one of them (I think it was Schuler), got high enough that it looked like he would be able to redirect the ball with his head. Clearly he was close enough to make a difference in the play, as Pinedo had to take him into account and could not get into position to make what would have been an easy stop had it been obvious that no one would be able to get to the ball. Offside should have been the call.

      • Thanks, best analysis of the situation I have seen. Penedo was certainly distracted by the offsides players.

  5. People need to stop bashing Rodgers. Kreis was able to tactically eliminate the galaxy offense. His adjustments for the second game and at halftime were the key to victory. The real talk is where this coach is going next.
    Btw it was one of the better playoff games. While there were dull moments there were many moments of attractive futbol. The west really showcased last nught superior futbol that was much better than the dynamo’s physical and Unattractive style of soccer.

    Oh and thank goodness RSL won because if not the refs would have sent the wrong team packing again. There was no need for extra time. the pundits should be torching the league over the poor refs and their decision that have affected games and have allowed for poor play on the field. There were many examples buy when Gonzalez slammed an RSL man right in front of the ref at the end of the game with no call ridiculous. I get it its the playoffs but do we really need the physicality to go in this direction this is not futbol or soccer. This type of behavior leads to un attractive games where poor teams win

    • It’s not “bashing” Rodgers. it’s analysis on the fact that the Galaxy traded away their top goal scorer for a guy who hadn’t played professional soccer for awhile after he bounced around the lower leagues in England (failing at each one). This was compounded by the fact that Magee continued his strong form and almost dragged the Fire into the playoffs by himself meanwhile MLS pumps the PR machine about Rodgers being the first gay player (since when did that matter? Can’t the guy just play soccer and we judge him on his ability?). He now has a book coming out. It’s hard to not see this trade as a horrible idea that went even more awry.

      • Sorry I left out a key point there.

        It was compounded that Rodgers looked poor when he first showed up, got hurt, and looked poor upon his return.

        He really added nothing to the team when he was on the field.

        Hands down the worst trade in memory

      • But unnecessary analysis that takes away from what really happened in the game. Real tactically adjusted and played well.

      • I respectfully disagree. The two are not mutually exclusive. RSL adjusted tactically and played better. Having Rogers on the pitch instead of Magee hurt LAG. Both are valid and pertinent points.

  6. What a horrid performance by LA. Rogers was terrible, but I can’t say that Zardes had a good night, either, certainly not compared to his play in the previous game. Real lack of midfield contribution to Galaxy attack.

    • I thought Rodgers and Zardes looked great…in Game 1. In Game 2, pretty much everybody for LA was horrible…Keane and Donovan included. Keane seemed frustrated (he seemed frustrated in Game 1 as well) and was really forcing shots and Donovan’s first touch was uncharacteristically bricklike, and it didn’t seem like Zardes and Rodgers were nearly as dangerous marauding down the flanks…RSL did a real good job mucking up the middle of the park with that diamond of theirs, and Sarvas and Juninho really couldn’t hold possession. So Zardes and Rodgers dropped deeper and that largely negated their speed.

      IMHO, as much as anything, the lack of depth endemic to MLS teams showed with LA last night. They needed a spark and didn’t have one when they reached for their bench.

      Truth: honestly I think LA could well be in the market to make a move for Freddy Adu…IF, that is, Adu is willing to take a pay cut to give his career a boost. Adu could give the Galaxy a player who could play at left wing or as a withdrawn forward/CAM, and give them a more dangerous option on set pieces…and could give them a lot more options as far as moving guys around when Plan A doesn’t work.

      • It all depends on Freddy’s attitude and his relationship with Bruce Arena. Adu can playgood and he can play in different positions so he could be useful provided that he can bottle up whatever it is that has been keeping him down and if the LAG can get him cheaply.

      • Lack of depth is a decision in MLS. RSL has plenty of depth and they like it that way. They made the hard decision to release or trade Will Johnson, Olave, Espindola and others last off season because they wanted to have depth and not pay so many high salaries. LAG choose to have 3 DPs and be a star studded team with few other players around them and no depth off the bench.

        You can argue that the salary cap should be higher. I would like to see it higher and attract more talent to MLS. But, I do like a salary cap and forcing teams to actually win through coaching and execution, not simply by opening your bank account and buying championships. RSL has consistently played the most attractive soccer in the league for 5 or 6 years now and they should be rewarded for it.

        For me, Kreis is the best coach in MLS with Porter being a close second. I would love to see Kreis be the next USMNT coach. He coaches really attractive soccer and gets the most out of his players.

  7. Agree with the Magee trade.
    Nice to see LA’s best chances come from Rogers (1 goal this season?). Pretty flat performance from LA. So pleased to see RSL pull this one out in the manner they did.

    Thank you Mr.Arena. You’ve made my day. (Think Goonies)

    • He stinks. Letting Magee go for him was a bad trade. If LA was really looking to off load him…fine..but at least get someone good or some decent players in return. I do not see what Rogers brings to the attack?..He doesnt even seem fast anymore. His touch?…Horrendous.

    • I love the Magee trade as an RSL fan. Magee was someone on LA other teams had to account for in the game plan in addition to the other major threats. Rogers on the other hand isn’t a special concern when it comes to defensive tactics. Zardes will become a bigger force in years to come.

  8. Wow talk about an uninspired performance from the Galaxy. And those guys are supposed to be defending the MLS Cup? Sheesh. They looked like the sick water buffalo that realizes the lions have it, and it’ll be faster and less painful to lay down and get it over with. Shameful.

    Can we say it one more time? Magee for Rogers #worsttradeinMLShistory.

    • Good analogy. I can’t think of one good thing to say about the Galaxy performance. Their offense was invisible, the midfield was dominated, Penedo was not very good, and they continue to get beat on set pieces and crosses. It was a total team collapse. Unlike the first game where Donovan and Keane squandered chances, in this game they didn’t even create any.

  9. Am I wrong or was this a really classy showing by RSL? They just kept working despite the ball not bouncing their way… even when it started to seem like the fix was in. The cherry on top was Rimando saving that crazy shot off his face, and putting the ball right back in play when others would roll around on the ground milking the situation.

    If you’ve got to lose the game, lose to class.

    • It was a very gutty showing by RSL. Definitely a deserved win. And I was one of those howling on Twitter about the disallowed goal. No assistant’s flag, so it couldn’t have been for offside. And if you’re going to call that level of handplay, every FK into the box will either never be taken or result in a PK.

      That was a disgraceful decision by the Ref, and IMHO, it only serves to validate all the conspiracy theories people have about MLS and their pet team, the Galaxy.

      • How do Galaxy conspiracy theories explain the missed goal that was way over the line in the last game against Seattle, the phantom foul that disallowed the Galaxy’s goal in their previpus match against Seattle, and two obvious offside calls that weren’t made during two goals Dallas scored against the Galaxy?

        Every team has suffered/benefitted from poor, mysterious, or wrong officiating decisions this season. Last night the call didn’t affect the final outcome. In my previous examples they cost the Galaxy six points this season. Take your conspiracy theories elsewhere.

      • Dude, quit whining about your poor, put-upon Galaxy. The ref gave marginal yellows to Sabo and Schuler last night, but Zardes had at least four handballs last night and never got a card…Donovan got in the ref’s face extremely aggressively more than once, and at least once last night laid hands on the ref (for the second time in the last 3 games) – no card. Your freakin’ coach stepped onto the field and kicked the ball and didn’t get sent off! Don’t tell me LA doesn’t get special treatment.

      • As Twellman said on the broadcast, if that’s a foul on Schuler (on the disallowed goal) then there should have been 10 calls against Omar in the first leg for the same thing.

      • lol right? TT is the most “matter of fact”, knee-jerk commentator ever. i actually don’t mind him in the studio, but i can’t stand his play by play.

        i mean, he went on and on about how it wasn’t a foul, then said he stands corrected because they were offside and the AR raised his flag, then a minute later said the AR didn’t raise his flag (which he didn’t).

        he says the first thing that comes to his mind instead of processing his thoughts. essentially saying two wrongs make a right is also not an appropriate analysis. he should have stated it was a VERY harsh call but that Schuler, by grabbing Omar’s arm the entire way, let the ref make a (poor) decision.

      • lol right? TT is the most “matter of fact”, knee-j3rk commentator ever. i actually don’t mind him in the studio, but i can’t stand his play by play.

        i mean, he went on and on about how it wasn’t a foul, then said he stands corrected because they were offside and the AR raised his flag, then a minute later said the AR didn’t raise his flag (which he didn’t).

        he says the first thing that comes to his mind instead of processing his thoughts. essentially saying two wrongs make a right is also not an appropriate analysis. he should have stated it was a VERY harsh call but that Schuler, by grabbing Omar’s arm the entire way, let the ref make a (poor) decision.

  10. By the way my team is dynamo, but we don’t even deserve to be in the east semifinal conference.
    Poor red bull wins the supporter shield, they travel all the way to Houston. They were the number one seed in the east and they still had to play overtime…………. Wtf. If that was dynamo, I would go crazy.
    As for galaxy, that’s what happens when u make ur defender a DP :), right. Why do u play a rookie instead of Villarreal with experience. In reality both rsl and galaxy played really bad in both games.
    If I’m Gonzalez, I would leave to Europe before the World Cup, sucks for Donovan who loves MLS and singed a long contract. Donovan should have gone somewhere, like Asia or Spain before the World Cup.
    In reality teams would rather win open cup than supporters shield, it’s easier and more prestigious. What do u get for supporters shield…….nothing.
    In final thought, what would happen if MLS had knock out games for playoffs, would Seattle win, would rsl be the best, would galaxy defend all game long until the 90 minute. What would happen? I know, MLS would loose money due to less games.

  11. Where is that LA fan who said Portland was the only team that scares them? RSL is a solid team and have been since Kreis took over, I would never underestimate them. God I hope they beat Portland.

  12. These CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS are pointless and players don’t take them seriously, have you guys seen the conference trophy presentation, it’s so weird and awkward.
    Us fans show up but I repeat, it’s a long season and the team with the most points in their conference deserves the conference tittle and a direct semifinal spot or final four spot.
    Also, why does MLS do overtime???????? It’s pointless, do it for the semifinal and championship.
    MLS looks like a second division league with this weird rules and Americans barely getting into MLS will get lost.
    Another thing, make this playoff games knock out games so teams can play some attractive soccer.
    Don’t get me wrong I love MLS but garber needs to realized its a long season, award the best team in the conference and have knock out games, that way the long season counts and the seeding is taking seriously.
    If MLS had two seasons a year, it would be understandable but it only has a long one.
    Things have to change, MLS is heading for 24 teams and these playoffs and the number one seed won’t make sense.
    If I was a coach, I would just play to make the playoffs , so I could win open cup and MLS cup.

    • Conference trophies aren’t the goal. Not in any playoff league. They’re a step on the path.
      MLS looks like MLS, In some things we go our own way, and it makes sense for us (ie- pro/rel would be a horrendous idea here)
      Seeding seems to work. And yeah, SS is sometimes overlooked by teams who are gunning for MLSCup. That’s ok.

    • how do you coach a team “just make the playoffs?” really?? The playoffs are not going to change “just because you say they need to”.

      Enjoy the games dude… don’t analyze what you can’t change. If not… simply watch the EURO leagues… lots of choices there for ya.

    • You claim to be an MLS fan, but your statements are those of someone who doesn’t watch much. The intensity level for playoff games is much higher than regular season games.


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