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LA Galaxy defeat Real Salt Lake 1-0 in playoff opener

The LA Galaxy defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 tonight, and will take their one goal lead on the road to Sandy, Utah to complete the home and home series. LA controlled the pace all night, but despite forcing numerous fast break situations the duo of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan didn't have the touch tonight.

The LA Galaxy shot early and often, and with several 1 vs 1 situations were unlucky to not get multiple goals from this outing. Despite many better chances, LA's lone goal came from a thirty foot wonder-strike from Sean Franklin. Despite the offensive frustration, Arena was high on the way his team performed. "Our team played well tonight. Certainly had a chance to score a few more goals. It was a good effort for ninety minutes. As expected, the return game will be a difficult one as well."

As Arena put it later, it's better to be the team up a goal than the team down. Three teams carry one goal leads into the next leg of their tie, only one hosts the next match. The Galaxy aren't in as good a position as they could have been, but in this edition of the MLS playoffs no team has that great of an advantage.

Zardes, who showed a great work rate all match, recovered the ball which set up the Sean Franklin goal. Zardes gave the ball to Keane who muffed the touch a bit, but had the presence of mind to chip the ball back out to Franklin who had all the time in the world to set up his shot. It was similar to the match as a whole, with LA doing enough right to stay in control yet sloppy while doing it.

Real Salt Lake shook things up a bit tactically, using Kyle Beckerman and Yordany Alvarez as the double pivot in an empty bucket formation. The shift to the 4-2-3-1 didn't bother Bruce Arena too much, "They lined up with 11 players, just as we suspected." If anything the formation shift gave Gyasi Zardes some room to work creating goalscoring opportunities from the flanks, even if Donovan and Keane up top weren't at their best finishing tonight.

There's much more to be played in this one, but for now LA have an advantage going into the back leg. Whether or not they can press this advantage will be key. The longer they can stay up 1-0 on aggregate, the more chances they'll have for the counter that can seal the series.