Sunday, November 9, 2008 1:07 AM
CARSON, Calif. -- Dema Kovalenko and Javier Morales scored on either side of halftime and Real Salt Lake advanced to the Western Conference final with a 2-2 tie against Chivas USA on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake won the series with a 3-2 aggregate score and will face the winner of Sunday's New York-Houston conference semifinal in the next round.
Chivas was eliminated in the first round for the third consecutive season.
Chivas' Sacha Kljestan opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales knocked Ante Razov down inside the penalty area and referee Michael Kennedy awarded the hosts a penalty. Kljestan tucked the ball into the upper right corner of the net.
The goal was Chivas' first in its last five playoff matches and snapped a 411-minute postseason scoreless streak.
With the aggregate-goals series even at 1-1, Real Salt Lake answered quickly. In the 39th minute, Morales found Kovalenko on the right side of the 6-yard box, and Kovalenko flicked a header into the back of the net.
RSL tied the match but more importantly went back ahead in the aggregate score by a goal. With its lead, Real Salt Lake again dropped players behind the ball and bunkered into a defensive stance. Morales then capitalized on a breakaway in the 77th to give Real Salt Lake a two-goal edge in the series.
Justin Braun scored in the 83rd minute from the top of the penalty area to level the match.