CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy needed a hero with their finishing touch lacking and in a spectacular way right back Sean Franklin obliged.
The 28-year-old right back scored the game-winning-goal on a 30-yard rocket in the 48th minute that sailed past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando to seal a 1-0 victory and give his side an advantage heading into the Western Conference Semifinal second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday.
With Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane struggling to find the back of the net, Franklin was the unlikely hero as the goal was Franklin’s first in 22 matches and just his second dating back to the start of the 2012 MLS regular season. However, there was an element of déjà vu to the strike as it was almost a carbon copy of his first career MLS goal back in July 2011.
“The ball just came out on top of the box. I had time and space [and] I hit it. I just hit it and kept in on frame. And, it went in,” said Franklin. “It was a great goal, personally, for me. I’m just glad I got it for the team. I’m happy we won with the shutout.
“Once I opened my eyes [after taking the shot] it was in the back of the net,” Franklin added. “It was a good shot and I’m just glad that it went in.”
Following the match, Donovan and Keane couldn’t help but admire Franklin’s strike, not only for the right back’s ability to fire such an attempt, but his placement on the play which began with the Irishman knocking the ball back toward Franklin at the top of the box.
“When we attack, we encourage our midfielders and our outside backs to stay forward more, so we can keep the attack going if the ball pops out,” Donovan said. “Sean did a really good job with that all night, and he got rewarded for it.”
“It was a great strike,” Keane remarked. “He’s lucky to be where he was because all the defenders were certainly running in and sometimes you just need to pull the ball back in and hope for the best, and lucky enough for us Sean was there.”
Although Franklin’s highlight-reel goal will get the headlines, the defender was also solid on the other side of the ball as the Galaxy contained an RSL side that threw numbers forward after conceding. On the evening, the Galaxy registered a total of five blocked shots with four coming in the second half following the Franklin strike.
The right back was a part of the action in the 67th minute when he blocked a Sebastian Velasquez attempt from close range that threatened to even the score heading into the decisive second leg.
“We talked about how we didn’t want to give up any goals. Everyone was flying in front of balls,” said Franklin. “Everyone did a good job today of shutting down their players and that’s kind of what is needed going into the second leg.”
The Galaxy may be up 1-0 heading into the second leg, but the job is far from complete with a challenging second leg fixture at Rio Tinto Stadium looming on Thursday.
Franklin was a part of both LA Galaxy teams that earned a 1-1-0 record in Utah this season, so he and the rest of LA are well-aware of what is in store for them at Rio Tinto Stadium, where a result will see them through to the Western Conference Championship for a fifth straight year.
“It’s going to be cold. There is altitude. It’s going to be a crazy game. They are definitely going to come out and press us early and we are going to have to be smart about that, and not give up any goals early,” said Franklin. “We’re just going to need to be smart. We know that we can’t sit back too much and we know that the first 20 minutes are going to be hectic so we need to be smart [for 90 minutes].”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com