Franklin blast gives Galaxy 1-0 edge over RSL

Sean Franklin

By MARC SERBER

A thunderous Sean Franklin strike from 25 yards out in the 48th minute helped give the LA Galaxy a 1-0 victory against Real Salt Lake on Sunday night in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series.

As the series shifts from the StubHub Center in Carson, California to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, the Galaxy will be frustrated with the result while RSL will have to consider the 1-0 scoreline an acceptable result.

The home side had the lion’s share of possession and created chances, but a rare night of profligacy in front of goal from Robbie Keane combined with some excellent play from RSL’s centerbacks meant LA needed Franklin’s moment of magic.

Despite being goalless, the first half went according to form.

The LA Galaxy looked to attack down the flanks (especially through Gyasi Zardes on the left), looking to either get to the byline or play the balls into Landon Donovan or Robbie Keane drifting inside the center and outside back.

When Real Salt Lake did have the ball it was the interchanging of the Claret and Cobalts narrow midfield trying to reek havoc in front of LA’s center backs. If the space didn’t open up in the center of the park, the next look was for Alvaro Saborio up top.

The chances started just four minutes in as Saborio did well to engineer a bit of space up top, and fired, but Galaxy’s Panamanian keeper, Jaime Penedo got down well.

At the other end, Donovan and Keane combined well but the Irish international scuffed his effort.

Zardes then raced down the flank and played a diagonal ball in behind RSL centerback Nat Borchers for Donovan to race onto. Donovan took himself a bit too wide running onto it and flashed his shot beyond the far post.

Donovan almost turned provider in the 19th minute taking advantage of a poor clearance from the RSL back-line to put Keane in alone on goal. Ireland’s all time leading scorer uncharacteristically shot right at Nick Rimando.

Another poor clearance following a Galaxy corner fell right to Franklin who blazed his effort just over, but it was a sign of things to come.

Keane and Donovan had one last chance as the half drew to a close, but center-back Chris Schuler made a tremendous last ditch tackle to clear Keane’s cross before Donovan could tap home at the back post.

The Galaxy looked the stronger side going into the break but the counter-attack also looked on for the visitors.

Just three minutes after the break, the Galaxy were rewarded for their attacking enterprise. Despite all the good work coming from the three headed monster of Keane, Donovan and Zardes, the goal came from an unlikely source. It was Franklin who perfectly stepped into a poor clearance and returned it with considerable interest.

The play started with Kyle Beckerman needlessly giving the ball away to Zardes deep in his own territory.

Donovan almost tucked the ball home just two minutes later but some more last ditch defending once again denied LA’s number 10.

From there on though it seemed as if the Galaxy began to sit back a bit as RSL pushed for an equalizer. This opened up space for the counter but LA were content to keep its midfield sitting deep and compact rather than cheating up for a potential break.

The visitors took advantage of their invitation to come forward. On one of the rare occasions that RSL spread the ball out wide, Tony Beltran put in a good cross, but Sebastian Velasquez’s effort was blocked in the 67th minute.

Beckerman looked to make amends for his mistake in the 73rd as he tested the wits of Penedo, but the Panamanian tipped the captain’s effort around the post at full stretch.

Ten minutes from time and Chris Wingert sent a delightful ball to Luis Gil. The 19-year-old flicked his effort beyond Penedo, but Todd Dunivant and RSL sub Devon Sandoval collided as they went for the loose ball and any shouts for a penalty fell on deaf ears.

Keane had the perfect opportunity to give the Galaxy a 2-0 lead five minutes from time. Juninho played him through with a perfectly weighted header, but the Galaxy’s leading scorer dragged his shot well wide of Rimando’s goal.

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said before the game a 1-0 loss might be an acceptable result. Based on the run of play, Kreis will be happy as his side will put out a much more attack-minded lineup on the field for the 2nd leg.

Here are the game highlights:

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20 Responses to Franklin blast gives Galaxy 1-0 edge over RSL

  1. byob el paso tx says:

    These “conference playoffs” are pointless. Timbers and red bull deserve their conference championship.
    First of all its a long season, each conference should have a single table winner, then give the conference winner a direct semifinal spot.
    By 2015 MLS will have 20 teams and i thibk MLS should change their playoffs.
    Like i said, have single table winner in each.conference, making the season worth the prize.
    As for how many teams join the MLS CUP PLAYOFFS, NOT CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS,it has to be top 7 in each conference, minus the conference winner.
    But the catch is, that it will be knock out games, no two legged series.
    Making the games knock out, will make the season more meaningful since you wanna host the game.
    Once the league grows to 22,24 it will benefit from this playoff method.

    • timmytwoshoezzz says:

      Someone hasn’t been paying attention to the trends in American Major lEague Sports recently. When it comes to playoffs in America, more is better (for the pocketbook)

    • bottlcaps says:

      As Clint Eastwood once said” Deserves, got nothing to do with it.”

      The Western (and this time, Eastern) conference teams were so close together, bad weather, a key injury and the schedule had more to do with position than the teams play.

      Soccer in America in not Soccer in England, Spain or Brazil. We have a way of expecting certain things in a sport, and playoffs, either in NCAA, NFL or NHL, are the name of the game. Live with it, and get to enjoy it.

      • chupacabra says:

        The table also would have been entirely different if there weren’t so many bad or blown calls by refs this season.

  2. Limey says:

    Strange decision to hold everyone back after the goal, that and a hatful of missed chances and here we are. Great goal by Franklin one of the cleanest hits i’ve seen. I figure Keane will have a make up night in Salt Lake. Watch out RSL!

  3. Neruda says:

    Kreis game plan at the beginning was risky but seemed to be going to plan until franklins rocket. Still RSL made bad pass after bad pass mostly in the first half. Hopefully RSL can make it interesting next week at RioT.

  4. AzTeXan says:

    Normally I hate all things LAG but they were the only team that provided a field w/o (American) football lines this weekend so I’ll keep my mouth shut this one time.

  5. AcidBurn says:

    Business as usual for LAG, bunker it up at Rio Tinto, wait for Donovan or Keane to hit the net, and on to the conference semis. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  6. Gary Page says:

    Donovan and Keane missed so many chances they should be apologizing to their teammates. A lot of mistakes on both sides.

    • AlexH says:

      Yeah they should have done better but give some credit to Nick Rimando. He was well positioned and forced Landon and Robbie to make high quality strikes in order to score, which they could not do last night.

  7. AlexH says:

    I fail to see why Robbie Rogers starts for LA over Hector Jimenez? JH looked contributed more in his time last night than RR and has contributed throughout the season which RR has consistently failed to do.

  8. Dos says:

    This game needed some football line to have the playoff feel.

  9. beachbum says:

    if Juninho is hurt, Marcelo will need to play the game of his li. He’s been excellent all year and this will be the ultimate test. Garcia Stephens Courtois Pablo will need to play their best games all year as well, whoever gets called. also must agree that I don’t get why Rodgers is starting; has done nothing all year and was ineffective once again last night. hope he turns it around at Rio Tinto if called