Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy spent the first half of Saturday’s Western Conference semifinals first leg feeling one another out, rarely overextending themselves and providing much of an opening on which their opponent could capitalize.
The second half, while still missing the goals, quickly transitioned from that feeling-out period to wide open, frantic, end-to-end soccer and ended up one of the season’s most thrilling 0-0 draws (video highlights below).
A game of that pace would usually favor the Galaxy, one of Major League Soccer’s most lethal counter-attacking teams, but in truth it was RSL who came closest to taking the slimmest of leads next Sunday’s second leg (7:30 pm ET).
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Joao Plata slipped behind the Galaxy backline and onto a through ball played by Alvaro Saborio in the 69th minute for the match’s most clearcut scoring chance. Played a bit wider than he would have liked, Plata had to be perfect with his finish and Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo was up to the task.
RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland flashed a shot inches wide of Penedo’s righthand post in the 85th minute after a Javier Morales corner kick pinballed to the patiently waiting Englishman 25 yards from goal.
Penedo came up huge for the Galaxy one last time when he acrobatically tipped looping effort by Morales over the crossbar in the 90th minute.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will be happy to be heading home for the second leg still on level terms, while RSL boss Jeff Cassar will be pleased to have not conceded an all important away goal.
Real Salt Lake: Rimando, Beltran, Borchers, Schuler, Wingert, Beckerman, Mulholland, Gil, Morales, Saborio, Plata
LA Galaxy: Penedo, Gargan, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Rogers, Husidic (Gordon 87′), Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan, Keane, Zardes