CARSON, Calif. — Emmanuel Boateng scored two goals in eight minutes, Landon Donovan had an assist in his first start since 2014 and the Los Angeles Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 on Wednesday night in the knockout round of the MLS playoffs.
Los Angeles (13-6-16) will play the Colorado Rapids in the first game of the two-leg Western Conference semifinals Sunday. Salt Lake (12-13-10) lost its final six road games.
Alan Gordon, who made his first start in the playoffs after 15 appearances as a substitute, opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Donovan crossed it and Giovani dos Santos’ glancing header found Gordon wide open at the far post. It was Donovan’s 15th playoff assist, which set a MLS record.
In the 19th minute, midfielder Javier Morales worked his way into the box and was dragged down from behind by Boateng and referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot for a penalty. Plata converted the spot kick, blasting it past Brian Rowe and just like that the match was equalized in the 21st minute.
Boateng made it 2-1 in the 26th minute when he dribbled through several defenders at the top of the box and scored with the outside of his foot. He scored his fourth goal of the season — all against RSL — in the 34th minute by curling in a shot from a difficult angle.
For the half, Los Angeles put three shots on goal and all three found the back of the net. Los Angeles held advantages in shots (6-4), shots on goal (3-2) and possession (63.6 percent), leading to the lopsided first half score line.
The possession discrepancy continued in the second half, though not as prominently as the first half as the Galaxy held 57 percent of the ball in the second half. And while RSL outshot LA 8-2, with three shots on goal, none were particularly threatening to Rowe and the 3-1 halftime score held.
In the 85th, Kyle Beckerman had an open header hit the crossbar.
Real Salt Lake finished the season in the playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine seasons after a one-year hiatus in 2015, posting a 12-12-10 record that was good for sixth in the Western Conference. With an 8-1-8 home record, Salt Lake was among four teams in MLS with one or fewer home defeats on the season.
In addition, RSL was among four MLS clubs to reach the Quarterfinal Round in CONCACAF Champions League, falling to Mexican side Tigres in the aggregate goal series.