MLS Playoffs
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Real Salt Lake 0, LA Galaxy 0 | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap

There was no blood drawn on Saturday by Real Salt Lake or the LA Galaxy in the first leg of their Western Conference Semifinal series of the MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T, as LA ‘keeper Jaime Penedo turned in a stellar performance in a 0-0 draw at a windy Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL controlled the match but couldn’t get anything past Penedo, who made six key saves to set up a dramatic second leg at StubHub Center next Sunday, Nov. 9 (7:30 pm ET on ESPN2, TSN2, RDS2). The winner of the series will advance to the Western Conference Championship series against the winner of the Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas semifinal.

Real Salt Lake started quickly, nearly scoring in the 12th minute, when Alvaro Saborio headed a corner just wide of the right post. Salt Lake almost went ahead again in the 37th, when LA defender A.J. De La Garza made a key last-ditch clearance to prevent Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil from tapping in a rebound off a Saborio shot.

Both sides were denied good looks at goal in the first half by controversial offside decisions, with RSL forward Joao Plata having a would-be breakaway pulled back in the 23rd minute, before LA striker Gyasi Zardes was denied a one-on-one opportunity with RSL ‘keeper Nick Rimando in the 37th.

RSL picked up where they left off in the second half, forcing Penedo into a terrific save in the 46th minute. Saborio made a mazy run down the left side, cutting past Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez and finding Plata in the box. Penedo came up huge on Plata’s ensuing effort, flashing quick reflexes to change direction and block the deflected 15-yarder.

The Galaxy had an excellent opportunity on the counter five minutes later, but star forward Robbie Keane couldn’t take advantage of a four-on-three opportunity, dribbling deep into the RSL box before rolling a shot to Rimando at the near post.

Penedo made another huge save in the 69th minute, stoning Plata again to keep things level. Saborio played his strike partner into the right side of the area with a wonderful flick, but Penedo handled the one-on-one opportunity, decisively coming off his line to block Plata’s attempt.  

Penedo had yet another stop in the 75th minute, acrobatically stopping a Javier Morales corner kick that looked destined to tuck inside the near post. The Panamanian international turned away one more shot in the 90th minute, swiping a Morales shot over the bar.

MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Jaime Penedo Weathered a rough patch in the first half to become the key man in the second, pushing aside shot after shot to preserve the shutout
2 Nat Borchers Helped break up all manner of Galaxy attacks on the night, preventing the visitors from grabbing an away goal
3 Luis Gil Coming into the lineup late to reportedly replace an ill Ned Grabavoy, Gil put in a strong two-way performance in midfield

 

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