SEATTLE – Sometimes it just takes a change of attitude.
And in a pinch, a change of players.
Dominated by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first half of Sunday night's MLS Cup, Real Salt Lake rallied to claim the title on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Two halves, two different clubs.
'"We knew in the second half they'd throw a lot at us," said L.A. forward Landon Donovan. "They did a good job of moving the ball and putting us under pressure."
Through the first 45 minutes, Salt Lake spent much of its time in its own territory, fending off L.A.'s talented front line. The Galaxy out-shot RSL 6-3 and got off two shots on goal to one for Salt Lake.
RSL got help from the addition of Clint Mathis, who came in when Javier Morales damaged his knee and left for good in the 22nd minute. Then Ned Grabavoy replaced midfielder Will Johnson, who had been ill prior to the game and couldn't continue.
"In the second half, Salt Lake played really well," said L.A. coach Bruce Arena.
RSL picked up the pace and forced the issue in the remainder of the match, finishing with 19 shots to 13 for L.A. and four shots on goal to three for the Galaxy. Robbie Findley found the net in the 64th minute, while Mathis, Findley, Grabavoy, Chris Wingert and Robbie Russell scored on penalty kicks after 30 minutes of extra time.
Asked if fitness was a factor in the second half for RSL, coach Jason Kreis said, "Well, you have to say fitness, if you consider injuries and sickness, yeah, because we had to make two subs by halftime – one for injury, the other one due to an illness that had taken Will Johnson last night in the middle of the night. So he gave us everything he could."
Added Kreis, "Ned Grabavoy came in. And for me, he was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic."