Walker Zimmerman own goal downs Los Angeles FC in first-ever playoff appearance

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 1: Damir Kreilach #6 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his first half goal during Los Angeles FC's MLS Western Conference Knockout match against Real Salt Lake at the Banc of California Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (November 1, 2018) – Less than a week ago, Real Salt Lake had a “one in a million” chance to make the playoffs according to Head Coach Mike Petke. Now his side are 100% into the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals. RSL defeated Los Angeles FC on Thursday 3-2, with a Walker Zimmerman own goal deciding it.

Walker Zimmerman own goal downs Los Angeles FC in first-ever playoff appearance

The first half was MLS chaos in several ways. Damir Kreilach opened the scoring in the 21st minute. RSL passed the ball up the flank. Brooks Lennon did some good work to control the ball on the touchline and send a cross into the middle of the box. Kreilach found space between the center backs and scored.

LAFC scored their first playoff goal in the 31st minute. Center back Danilo Silva headed the ball into the back of the net off a great cross from Carlos Vela. Chaos ensued after the goal as fans started throwing cups and other debris onto the field. Silva’s goal was scored on the 3252 end of Banc of California stadium.

Head official Mark Geiger chose to suspend play for five minutes after that sequence. The half ended 1-1.

The pace was frenetic in the second half with both teams going for a winner. Substitute Christian Ramirez put LAFC up 2-1, beating the off-sides trap on a pass by Lee Nguyen, sending the ball into the top netting on Nick Rimando.

Kreilach scored again in the 58th minute. RSL were attacking with numbers in the box when the ball wasn’t cleared far enough. On a martial arts-like volley, Kreilach hit the ball off the post and into the side netting.

RSL took the lead in the 69th minute. On a broken play in the box, Jefferson Savarino got the ball and deflected it off the head of Walker Zimmerman to score.

LAFC couldn’t find an equalizer and the match ended 2-3.

Three takeaways:

Killer Kreilach: Damir Kreilach had one of his best games since coming to MLS. He had two fantastic goals and was a workhorse all over. He had two big opportunities and buried them in spectacular fashion. It helped RSL win this game.

LAFC collapse: LAFC had a fantastic 2018 season. They spent big and played big. Bob Bradley did a great job building and molding this team. One of their weaknesses this year has been poor results from a winning position. They had a 2-1 lead in this game, gave it up, had an unfortunate bounce go against them, and couldn’t respond.

Suspension of play: The night featured two fantastic atmosphere for the MLS Cup Playoffs. The game was a spectacle for the league and LAFC on and off the field. It’s unfortunate that LAFC supporters celebrated the first goal in a way that was unsafe for the players of the field. It was a measured response from the officials to suspend play, but this shouldn’t be necessary anywhere in American Soccer.

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