Carson, Calif. • The ball rolled aimlessly outside the 18-yard box. Real Salt Lake, defending a team that has been a thorn in its side this season and for years now, was a few minutes into a second half and bent on continuing on keeping the high-octane L.A. Galaxy off the score sheet.
Sean Franklin's right foot changed it all in a flash.
The L.A. defender drilled a 30-yard masterpiece in the 48th minute, a ball that swerved neatly into the post, and on a night that RSL needed to limit the damage, they came out with a 1-0 loss in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
The second leg will be played Thursday, Nov. 7, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
And certainly, RSL must figure out how to deal with the pressure put on by the Galaxy and contain their counter-attacking menace.
Too often L.A. had quick -Â and easy - runs at the RSL defense, creating chances, but RSL's defense was often there to thwart, expensing energy in chasing the sudden wide-open waves of attack.
Galaxy captain Robbie Keane had a slew of golden opportunities, unable to capitalize on on two point-blank shots at Rimando. Keane, who assisted on the goal to Franklin, could have had two. The Irishman found Landon Donovan in the 42nd minute on a break, but the cross was eventually deflected by center back Chris Schuler.
RSL's best shot at equalizing came in the 80th minute when defender Chris Wingert floated a cross to the back post to a waiting Luis Gil. But the Southern California native was unable to get a clean hit and the ball was cleared away by the Galaxy.
There is now three days before the second leg, a 90-minute match - or potentially longer - in which RSL has to keep its season afloat.
Twitter: @chriskamrani Real Salt Lake at L.A. Galaxy
Western Conference semifinal, Leg 1
At StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: Sunday, 7 p.m.
About RSL: The No. 2 seed out of a packed Western Conference postseason picture, Real Salt Lake led the West in goals scored this season with 57, finishing the season one goal behind Supporters' Shield champions New York Red Bulls. â¦ Forward Alvaro Saborio leads the team in goals scored with 12 in just 16 matches played this season. â¦ Midfielder Javier Morales ranks fourth in the MLS in assists with 10. â¦ RSL's history against L.A. features a 10-11-6 record in MLS regular season and playoff action. â¦ RSL has had played well in Carson, Calif., with a 5-8-2 record at L.A.
About L.A.: Paced by MVP candidate Robbie Keane (16 goals, 11 assists), the Galaxy are widely considered one of the most lethal offenses in MLS. .. The Galaxy went 2-1-0 against RSL this season, most recently in a 4-2 win at home, a match in which Keane scored a second-half hat trick. â¦ L.A. has scored 53 goals, while allowing the exact same with 53 in its 34 regular-season matches. â¦ the Galaxy defense is anchored by U.S. men's national team star Omar Gonzalez and midseason acquisition Jaime Penedo, a Panamanian goalkeeper who has shored up the position quite well for L.A. with some stellar play as of late.