Velasquez propels RSL into West finals
SANDY, Utah -- Sebastian Velasquez scored his first MLS goal in the first half, Chris Schuler added the winning goal in the first overtime and Real Salt Lake advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday night.
RSL won the series 2-1 on aggregate, reaching a conference final for the third time in five years and ending the Galaxy's bid for a third consecutive MLS Cup.
Salt Lake improved to 2-2-2 in second-leg matches in the MLS playoffs. RSL's previous second leg win came against Columbus in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Salt Lake started out strong on the offensive end in the first half, mixing several nice passes with good ball movement to break down the Los Angeles defense. The Galaxy made it easier for Salt Lake to create some scoring chances by struggling to possess the ball and clear it.
RSL's efforts paid off in the 35th minute when Velasquez's goal tied it 1-1 on the aggregate. Chris Wingert sent a cross into Velasquez, who was unmarked just outside the top of the 6-yard box. Velasquez quickly made the Galaxy pay, sending a snap-header past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Los Angeles had no answer on the other end. The Galaxy created eight shots before halftime, but did not put any on the frame. RSL, on the other hand, had three shots on goal out of a total of six shots.
Salt Lake stepped up its pressure after halftime.
Schuler sent a header into the crossbar in the 74th minute after Javier Morales crossed it into him off a corner kick. Then, Alavro Saborio collected the ball outside the box in the 78th minute and blasted it to the left side, hitting the post.
RSL had its most painful near-miss during the 84th minute. Morales scored an apparent go-ahead goal when he sent a through ball on a free kick into the back of the net. A foul in the box away from the ball negated the scoring play.
Schuler came through in overtime. Latching onto a cross from Morales on a free kick in the 102nd minute, Schuler corralled the ball on a run to the back post and tapped it home just inside the post for his second MLS goal.