for this game

Real Salt Lake advances after draw with Chivas USA

Nov 9, 2008 - 7:00 AM CARSON, California (Ticker) -- Javier Morales and Dema Kovalenko recorded a goal apiece as third-seeded Real Salt Lake won its first playoff series in franchise history with a 2-2 draw over second-seeded Chivas USA in the second leg of their Western Conference semifinal on Saturday.

Real Salt Lake won the first leg, 1-0, and advances to the conference final with an aggregate score of 3-2. Salt Lake will take on either the top-seeded Houston Dynamo or fourth-seeded New York Red Bulls, who play the second leg of their matchup on Sunday.

"We knew it was going to be tough, they always are," Kovalenko said. "We fought all year and no one believed in us. Even the (newspaper) in Salt Lake said we wouldn't make the playoffs, but we believed in ourselves and now we're in the conference finals. That just goes to show you what you can do when you believe in yourself."

Morales gave Salt Lake a 2-1 lead in the 77th minute, blasting a shot from the left side of the penalty area into the far right corner of the net.

Needing two goals to force overtime, Chivas got one back when Justin Braun evened the score six minutes later. The home team supplied heavy pressure over the game's final couple minutes, but Chivas was unable to get one more goal to extend the match.

"We were under a lot of pressure," Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "I think (goalkeeper) Nick Rimando was a complete monster out there tonight. I think the defense showed tonight how much they've improved. Early in the season I don't think they would have held like they did tonight."

"I feel unlucky not to have scored in the last few minutes," Chivas coach Preki said. "Overall, I'm happy with the effort my guys put forward and I wish Salt Lake the best of luck."

Chivas opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Morales fouled Ante Razov on the right side of the 18-yard box, setting up a penalty kick.

Sacha Kljestan took advantage as he blasted the shot into the upper right corner to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

Soon after streamers filled the field in celebration of the goal, Real Salt Lake came back to even the score in the 39th minute.

Morales sent in a cross from the right wing and Kovalenko headed the ball from the top of the six-yard box into the lower left corner to level the match at 1-1.

"I'm really disappointed that we gave up such a soft goal," Preki said. "In the second half we had to make changes and go forward and in doing this we leave gaps in the back and then we give away another very soft goal, the softest goal you'll ever see."

The contest featured 44 fouls and seven yellow cards between the teams. Salt Lake outshot Chivas, 16-12.