The reigning champions were knocked out after failing to score a goal in the Western Conference semifinal second leg.
After losing the first leg with a lone striker 4-2-3-1 system, Jason Kreis reverted his team back to its more familiar 4-4-2 diamond. The tactical switch nearly paid off in the early going when Robbie Findley, relegated to the bench at the StubHub center but now freed, intercepted a poor Todd Dunivant back pass, requiring Jaime Penedo to come to the Galaxy's rescue.
The adjustment also gave RSL more options going forward, letting the Utah side establish its passing game, and that paid off when Sebastien Velasquez scored in the 35th minute to wipe out the Galaxy's advantage. The midfielder slipped in between the LA defenders and snapped home a header on Chris Wingert's cross to make it 1-0.
The second half settled into a dull stalemate until a Galaxy move in the 66th minute brought a big save from Nick Rimando and injected some life into the game. Robbie Rogers, disappointing all night, finally slotted a nice pass inside to Robbie Keane, whose shot was pushed away by Romando but fell for Donovan to shoot and bring another save from the Real shot-stopper. Salt Lake would show its teeth too, with Alvaro Saborio clattering the woodwork in the 77th minute.
RSL rightly felt aggrieved for a call in the 85th minute, when a fantastic 40-yard Javier Morales free kick was disallowed by referee Baldomero Toledo for a phantom offense.
Like the Eastern Conference semifinals before it, this second leg extended into extra time. And in the 102nd minute, RSL finally got a free kick goal that counted. From a wide position, Javier Morales whipped the set piece across the front of LA's goal, and Chris Schuler met it at the back post to touch home.
Real Salt Lake will next meet the winner of the Seattle-Portland matchup in the Western Conference final.