Recap: Espindola, RSL bolster playoff spot in win over LA

CARSON, Calif. -- Fabian Espíndola scored goals just minutes apart and Real Salt Lake took a huge step toward the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with a 2-1 triumph Saturday night over the LA Galaxy.

Espíndola finished an Álvaro Saborío feed in the 25th minute and headed home a Javier Morales cross in the 28th as RSL (17-11-4), officially eliminated from  the Supporters' Shield race when San Jose beat Colorado, overcame an early Galaxy onslaught to move five points ahead of LA (15-11-4) and six in front of Seattle (13-7-10).

Robbie Keane scored the Galaxy's goal, his 15th of the season, with a brilliant volley from a Juninho cross in the 17th minute.


RSL and Galaxy have two games remaining; Seattle has four left, including Sunday's game against Portland. RSL have now won four of their last five games, and the Galaxy was beaten for just the second time in 14 games since July 4.

The Galaxy also watched as Landon Donovan limped off the field with about 10 minutes to go after going down following contact with RSL defender Jámison Olave near the byline to the left of the RSL goal. He did not return, and there was no official word from the Galaxy on the severity of Donovan’s injury before the final whistle

The Galaxy was already without center back A.J. DeLaGarza, who will miss at least a month with a sprained left knee, and also left back Todd Dunivant, who was held out after suffering a hip pointer earlier this week in training. The Galaxy, which used rookies Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul on the left side of the backline, decided to hold Dunivant out after Friday's training session.

LA came close twice in the first six minutes of an absorbing first half. A quick counterattack not three minutes in saw Donovan play Keane through, then receive a return pass near the left post; Tony Beltran slid in to block his shot. Donovan again played Keane through following a throw-in, but Olave blocked Donovan's shot following the return, and Juninho hit the crossbar with the rebound.

Keane finally provided the lead moments later. Juninho was given space to operate from a Sean Franklin throw-in on the right flank and arced a cross to the left side of the RSL box. The Irishman measured it, and crushed a low, left-footed volley through the goalmouth and inside the right post.

The lead lasted barely eight minutes. Espíndola finished after he dummied a Morales pass to the semicircle -- Saborío played him clear after Omar Gonzalez knocked down the would-be through ball -- and it was 2-1 about less than three minutes later, when Espíndola slipped into space above Gonzalez and Franklin to powerfully head home Morales' cross from the right wing.

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The second half wasn't as electric as the first. RSL created little, but their defense prevented the Galaxy from turning their possession into scoring chances. Juninho came closest, but Olave blocked a shot that might have been going wide in the 58th minute and goalkeeper Nick Rimando made a diving stop in the 88th.

RSL nearly added a third in stoppage, but goalkeeper Josh Saunders and Gonzalez blocked Espíndola on a counter and Saunders made fine saves on Paulo Jr. and Saborío.

The Galaxy finish up at San Jose on Oct. 21 and at home against Seattle a week later in the regular-season finale. RSL play Oct. 17 at Seattle and wrap Oct. 27 at home against Vancouver. Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Fabian Espindola Not much agrument here. He changed the game in a flash with just a few feet of space against that LA backline.
2 Nat Borchers Solid night for the veteran, who helped shut down the Galaxy offense after RSL took the lead.
3 Robbie Keane World class finish and a handful throughout the first half. Lost a step after Donovan left.


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