Real Salt Lake beats Galaxy, advances to West Finals

SANDY, Utah - Sebastian Velasquez scored his first career MLS goal before halftime and Chris Schuler added the game winner in the first overtime period to lift Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday night.

RSL advanced to the MLS Western Conference Finals after winning the series 2-1 on aggregate. It is its third finals berth in the past five seasons.

The victory ended any hopes the Galaxy had for claiming a third consecutive MLS Cup. For the second time in five years, Salt Lake eliminated Los Angeles from the playoffs.

Salt Lake improved to 2-2-2 all time in second leg matches in a playoff series. RSL's previous second leg triumph came against Columbus in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals - en route to winning the team's lone MLS Cup.

After shaky offensive play in the first leg in Los Angeles, RSL turned out a better effort at home in the first half. Salt Lake strung together several nice passes, mixed in good ball movement and dominated possession. The Galaxy made it easier for Salt Lake to create scoring chances with poor clearances and by turning the ball over in the midfield.

Salt Lake tied it at 1-1 on aggregate in the 35th minute with Velasquez's header. Chris Wingert sent a cross deep into the box to an unmarked Velasquez. He then slipped a header past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo for his first career MLS goal.

RSL had several chances to go ahead in the second half, but unlucky bounces and an untimely goal kept them from notching a potential game-winner.

Javier Morales sent a cross into Chris Schuler off a corner kick in the 74th minute. Schuler turned the pass into a header, but sent the ball into the crossbar. Then Alavro Saborio collected the ball outside the box in the 78th minute. Saborio blasted it from distance at the left post. The ball failed to curl inside and struck the bottom of the post.

The costliest near-miss occurred in the 84th minute. Morales lined up for a free kick and hooked a through ball over the defensive wall and into the net. But his goal was waved off after an RSL foul in the box.

Schuler helped Salt Lake bounce back in overtime. He collected a cross from Morales on a free kick in the 102nd minute. Schuler took the ball at the back post and threaded it just inside the post for the go-ahead goal.

NOTES: RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy was absent from the starting lineup because of a left hamstring strain he suffered in Sunday's first leg against the Galaxy. ... The teams met in the playoffs for the fourth time. Real's lone victory in the previous three meetings came in the 2009 MLS Cup title match. ... RSL and Los Angeles are the only MLS teams in the league's post-shootout era to reach the 15-win and 50-point plateau over four consecutive seasons. ... Salt Lake was 2-1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium during the regular season following a road loss.