Espindola, Morales lead RSL back to beat Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- You don't see that very often.
The defending champions LA Galaxy took a lead early in the second half through Edson Buddle before conceding three unanswered goals to Real Salt Lake in the final 17 minutes to fall 3-1, spoiling LA's home opener at The Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales did the majority of the damage after a Galaxy own goal leveled terms in the 73rd minute. Buddle accounted for the lone Galaxy goal, heading in a David Beckham cross in the 71st minute.
The loss was the first of any kind suffered by the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center since Nov. 14, 2010, when they lost to FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship.
The victory was the first for RSL against the Galaxy in Southern California since June 2009.
The Galaxy, who were coming off Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match in Toronto, started a mostly first-choice roster. The only changes were Marcelo Sarvas in for Juninho and debutant Tommy Meyer in place of Andrew Boyens.
Real Salt Lake's lineup featured neither Javier Morales (quadriceps) nor Alvaro Saborio (knee), although the two stars were on the bench, and their insertion in the second half would turn the tide. Luis Gil and first-round draft choice Sebastian Velasquez got the call, as well as striker Paulo Junior.
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The Galaxy dominated the first half. A furious stretch of sustained pressure resulted in several chances. Landon Donovan rattled the crossbar from 20 yards out in the 27th minute, and moments later Mike Magee forced Nick Rimando to make a diving save after executing a perfect bicycle kick off a pinpoint Beckham cross.
RSL brought on their big guns in the 66th minute, as Saborio and Morales replaced Paulo Junior and teenager Gil, respectively. The Galaxy countered shortly thereafter with Juninho and Michael Stephens.
Almost immediately, the match changed. Buddle made his return a triumphant one when he scored in the 71st minute. Beckham swung a cross in from the right flank and Buddle coolly headed the ball into the corner of the net. Buddle, who rejoined the Galaxy after a stint in Europe, led the Galaxy with 17 goals in 2010 and accounted for the first seven goals of that year, a run that included a brace against RSL.
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LA's lead was short-lived though as the Galaxy gifted the equalizer to the visitors. Velasquez knocked a speculative cross in from the right flank. The ball took a bounced inside the box just as Sean Franklin tried to clear it. The ball skipped off his shin, though, and into the back of the net.
Morales punched in the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute -- his first goal since returning from a horrific leg injury early in 2011. Morales was at the right place at the right time as a deflected ball fell to him inside the penalty area. Morales knocked the ball on frame. Saunders got a piece of it but was unable to stop it.
Espindola put an exclamation mark on the victory when he buried a goal in the 84th minute on a breakaway, moments after the Galaxy took out center back Meyer in favor of Chad Barrett.