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11/23 5:00pm
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11/30 9:00pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

RSL learn a bit about themselves in comeback win at LA

Real Salt Lake could have been uptight, nervous or already defeated after giving up a golazo to Robbie Keane 17 minutes into Saturday night’s match at LA. After all, the Claret-and-Cobalt were only 2-10-1 in games where it gave up the first goal, and the Galaxy were pressing the issue.

“They really put us under it in the first 15 minutes,” head coach Jason Kreis said to reporters following what turned into a 2-1 win. “I think they scored in the 17th minute, and we were under it for all of those 17 minutes. [I was] really interested to see what our response would be. I think a lot of teams, and even ourselves in some patches of the season and certainly in prior years, would fold up shop and really just reel — and just succumb to more and more goals and more and more pressure.

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“But I think our guys handled it in the exact right way. Everybody stayed calm and realized we were going to get chances.”

The team echoed their coach’s thoughts.

“The key was to be patient,” said midfielder Javier Morales. “We knew that maybe they'd score early at home, so we had to be ready — play our game. It is a 90-minute game so we had to be patient and believe in ourselves. I believe the last couple games we have been improving every game, and today, I think we played one of the better games of the year.”

The comeback win didn’t lock RSL into the No. 2 seed for the MLS Cup playoffs, and although it came close, it didn’t even guarantee them the third spot to avoid the fourth or fifth seed and subsequent one-game play-in round of the playoffs.

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But something it certainly did was give them the confidence they needed to know they could win despite falling behind to a good team — even on the road. That may prove more valuable than the three points.

“The good thing is we started losing, and we come back from that,” said forward Fabián Espíndola, who starred with two goals. “So that's a good thing. That's the kind of team that can win a championship.”