The Galaxy right back scored on a tremendous strike, but RSL will be content going home just a goal down after LA wasted a number of great chances.
The Galaxy rode a long-distance blast from Sean Franklin to a 1-0 victory at StubHub Center, but the one-goal triumph felt like a disappointment on a night when LA kept visiting RSL on its toes for much of the match.
The star tandem of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan kept RSL defenders busy all night, but far too often they watched chances go begging as they failed to hit the target on a number of occasions.
The Galaxy got off to a flying start in the beginning of the match, testing RSL on repeated occasions, only to see the finishing by their stars lacking. Donovan saw a good look from close range go wide of goal from a tight angle in the 12th minute, while Keane broke in behind the RSL defense in the 18th minute only to be denied by Nick Rimando.
The rest of the night was a series of wasted chances, and promising build-ups lacking the final pass or shot for the Galaxy. Among the missed opportunities was a look just before halftime that Keane and Donovan combined on, only to have RSL defender Chris Schuler stick a foot in to block the ensuing shot from Keane.
The Galaxy's goal came from an unlikely source, as Keane cut a pass back from the endline that found Franklin 25 yards out, and the right back unleashed an unstoppable first-time rocket that tailed away from Rimando and into the net.
RSL came out in a defensive-minded 4-2-3-1 formation that made it clear the visitors were hoping to contain LA’s high-powered attack and keep the result respectable before heading back to Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday for the second leg.
Jason Kreis’ squad accomplished that mission, both with a combination of steady goalkeeping from Nick Rimando, timely defensive stops by Schuler and Nat Borchers, and the poor finishing from Keane and Donovan, who were far from their normally reliable selves in front of goal.
RSL nearly stole a late goal in the 80th minute when a floated pass found Luis Gil alone on the back post, but the young midfielder couldn’t gather it cleanly and get a shot on goal.
The Galaxy will now travel to Utah for the second leg on Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Galaxy have been poor on the road this season, posting a 4-9-4 record as visitors, while RSL finished the regular season with a 10-3-4 record at Rio Tinto. One of those three losses did come against the Galaxy though, in a 2-0 LA victory on April 27.