Real Salt Lake had several scoring opportunities but could only find the net once in a 3-1 defeat to the star-studded Galaxy.
Though Salt Lake pulled a goal back almost immediately after the Los Angeles Galaxy went up one goal in the Western Conference final, it couldn’t find the means to respond to two well-finished second-half goals that put the Galaxy into the MLS Cup final, with chances throughout the game finding the woodwork or flying just wide.
While Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis pointed out the need for improvement in various aspects of Salt Lake's game, he admitted that his team played well enough to score more than once in a 3-1 loss.
“Was it a night we didn’t attack well enough? Maybe. But we had chances to score and level the game no doubt,” he told reporters after the game.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson shared the same sentiment, calling the deciding factor in the game the difference in the team's execution.
“I think it just comes down to the execution,” he said. “Both teams worked really hard, battled, fought hard, they just executed in the box and we didn’t defend with the intensity and tenacity that is required at this point in the season against a top team.”
Jamison Olave might have well set the tone for RSL’s evening in the fifth minute as he had a clear chance to volley home from inside the six-yard box, only to see his effort drilled right into the chest of Josh Saunders. Seven minutes later, Chris Schuler missed a second chance to put his team ahead, turning a free header from Javier Morales’ free kick wide of the goal.
While Alvaro Saborio was on hand to head home a goal within two minutes of Los Angeles taking the lead, Salt Lake could not conjure up the same response twice in a row after Fabian Espindola struck the bar after turning and shooting from a seemingly impossible position immediately after Mike Magee put the Galaxy up 2-1.
“It was a good play,” Espindola said.” I tried to do that because the goalkeeper wouldn’t have imagined I could put it on goal, but unfortunately it didn’t go in.”
Espindola also had the misfortune of missing a one-on-one chance in the 90th minute that could have set up a dramatic period of injury time.
“We missed a breakaway sometime in the 80s [minutes], I knew that was it, it wasn’t our night tonight,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said.
Beckerman himself struck the woodwork as well, with his drilled effort on the stroke of halftime rebounding off the post and out of harm’s way.
“Both teams were going for it – if we get that second goal, maybe we’re having a different conversation right now,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately they were able to get that second goal before we were and the third one was a bit of a dagger, but we still fought.”
While the post did save the Galaxy on a pair of occasions though, goalkeeper Josh Saunders also came up with four saves, including two challenging stops in the final 10 minutes of play as the visitors pushed forward.
“We didn’t quit, which was good and kept going for it and Saunders made quite a few good saves,” Beckerman said of his side’s late push. “We asked the questions and they answered them.”