CARSON, Calif. — Not even Javier Morales' return to the starting lineup could change Real Salt Lake's recent fortunes Saturday night.
The Los Angeles Galaxy scored two unusual goals in the second half to rally for a 2-1 victory in front of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center.
Real (15-9-6) now has its longest losing streak of the season, three games. During that span, RSL allowed nine goals while scoring just two.
The loss, combined with Seattle's 2-1 victory at New England, puts RSL six points behind the second-place Sounders in Major League Soccer's Western Conference.
Second place could become important for Real should the Galaxy (18-3-10) win both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup. If RSL finishes with the second-largest point total, it would again qualify for the CONCACAF Champions' League.
Despite the loss, Real coach Jason Kreis felt pleased with the way his team responded to last week's public demand to display more discipline on the field.
"I wanted improvement," Kreis said. "I wanted a collective team effort. I wanted a team that showed a little bit more discipline and was more difficult to break down. We got all that. We got a lot of hard work from guys."
"I think we stretched L.A. to their wits end. We gave (the Galaxy) a pretty difficult challenge."
Morales made his first start since May 7, when he suffered a broken left ankle on a tackle from Chivas USA's Marcos Mondaini — and helped put RSL ahead in the first half.
Fabian Espindola used a glancing header from six yards off Morales' corner kick to put the ball in the upper-left corner of the net in the 45th minute.
The goal was Espindola's 26th of his RSL career, drawing him within three goals of Robbie Findley, the club's all-time scoring leader.
Morales had a chance to give Real the lead in the 17th minute on a 30-yard free kick. But goalkeeper Josh Saunders deflected the dipping ball over the crossbar with his right hand. Morales played 80 minutes.
"The plan was not to play him more than 60 minutes," Kreis said. "But he was feeling really good and I thought he was an important piece for us to achieve that result.
"So I wanted to play him as long as I thought we could get away with it without hindering him or rising a possible injury. I was pleased he got through as much as he did."
Chad Barrett tied the score in the 59th minute. After receiving David Beckham's long pass from the right flank, Barrett beat defender Jamison Olave, who forced Barrett to the right post and marked him tightly.
But Barrett poked the ball with his left foot through a small space between Olave, the post and goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Beckham received his league-leading 15th assist.
Los Angeles then exploited a defensive mistake to move ahead in the 71st minute.
Landon Donovan headed Beckham's free kick from the right flank to Todd Dunivant at the left post. Dunivant took a shot from an awkward angle; the ball deflected off defenders Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers for an own goal.
"We were undone by two unlucky goals," Kreis said. "But that's going to happen, sometimes."
Espindola received a yellow card in the 38th minute and will be suspended for Thursday night's game at Vancouver.
Yordany Alvarez made his second start of the season in the midfield for Kyle Beckerman, who was suspended after receiving a red card Wednesday night against Chicago.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company