LA Galaxy destroys Real Salt Lake 5-0 to advance to MLS Western Conference Championship

November 10, 2014

Carson, Calif. -- After a hard fought game last weekend in Real Salt Lake that featured goalkeepers Jaime Penedo and Nick Rimando making top level saves, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake faced off in Carson on Sunday night with the series tied 0-0 on aggregate.

With the season on the line, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the starting lineup, inserting defender Leonardo in place of Dan Gargan, with A.J. DeLaGarza moving to the right side of the defense.  Arena also had Stefan Ishizaki replace Baggio Husidic in the midfield.

Perhaps the moves helped spark the team, or perhaps playing the deciding game at home in front of a packed house of 27,000 fans made the difference, because the Galaxy came out as the aggressors and never looked back.

Los Angeles struck first in the 10th minute when AJ DeLaGarza got the ball wide and crossed in to the box.  Landon Donovan was waiting at goal and headed it past Nick Rimando for a 1-0 lead.

The Galaxy continued to dominate the game when Donovan got the ball inside the 18-yard box following Robbie Keane’s play towards the goal.  Keane ran back to an onside position and Donovan passed him the ball.  Robbie slid for the ball and found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

"In the first ten minutes, we knew we had to get the first goal," said Keane.  "Once we got that, they opened up even more and we got the second one early as well. I think for them then the game was over. They had to go for goal, so obviously there was a lot of space for us to counterattack and defend well. That's the reason we won the game."

Throughout the first half, Los Angeles controlled the match with offensive attacks resulting in shots for Donovan, Keane, Zardes, and others.  Nearly everything went right for the Galaxy, except that in the 37th minute, Leonardo cleared the ball out of bounds and seemingly injured his knee in the process.  He was immediately subbed off for Tommy Meyer, who provided quality play in Leonardo’s absence.

With the new "away goal" rules implemented for the MLS playoffs, the Galaxy wanted to make sure it finished off RSL, and they did just that.  In the 55th minute, Landon Donovan created another highlight for his fans to remember, as he took a Keane pass, accelerated by two defenders, and then went past Rimando and scored for a 3-0 lead that sent the stadium into a frenzy.

"We did a lot of work this week on breaking down the team with those ten guys behind the ball," said Donovan.  "So I thought our spacing was really good, our movement was excellent, our possession passing was excellent, and then our final pass was really good. I think that combined with really good energy made for a really good night.”

LA didn’t stop there, as Marcelo Sarvas scored minutes later for a 4-0 lead. Robbie Rogers had the ball on the wing and started the sequence with a pass into Keane, who was 20 yards from goal.  Sarvas received a quick pass from Keane and was able to shoot under the legs of Rimando while under duress from other defenders.

In the 72nd minute, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan showed why they are the best duo in MLS and why the Galaxy are so dangerous.

Keane got the ball and chipped it over the defense to Donovan, who was running down the middle.  Donovan watched as Rimando approached, then punched it low and to the corner past Rimando for a 5-0 lead.  The goal for Donovan gave him a hat trick (his third career playoff hat trick) in the game and gave LA some redemption for its 2013 playoff loss to RSL.

“Unbelievable performance," said Keane of his teammate Donovan.  "Unbelievable. Perfectly capped off a great hat-trick.”

The loss for RSL was one of the worst in franchise history and was the first time that they allowed four goals in a postseason game.

“Our possession wasn’t there tonight," said Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar.  "We were giving the ball away tonight too often and too early and it was just setting them off. Against LA if you are not good with the ball they are going to make you pay and we paid today and we paid a lot.”

The Galaxy will play the first leg of the Conference Championship Sunday, Nov. 23, against either Seattle or FC Dallas, depending on which team advances out of that series.

After the game, Landon Donovan summed up his magical night perfectly, stating, “On a night like tonight, you don’t want the game to end.”

Scoring Summary

LA – Landon Donovan 10’ (Assisted by A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas)
LA – Robbie Keane 20’ (Assisted by Landon Donovan, Juninho)
LA – Landon Donovan 54’ (Assisted by Robbie Keane)
LA – Marcelo Sarvas 63’ (Assisted by Robbie Keane, Robbie Rogers)
LA – Landon Donovan 72’ (Assisted by Robbie Keane)

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for

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