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CARSON, Calif. – Sean Franklin scored on a dramatic 27-yard strike shortly after halftime, and the Los Angeles Galaxy opened its run at a third straight Major League Soccer championship with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Sunday night in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.

Jaime Penedo got the shutout.

Defender Franklin’s first goal since May 26 provided an advantage for the third-seeded Galaxy when the teams meet Thursday in Utah for the second leg.

The team with the most aggregate goals in the two matches will face either Portland or Sounders FC in the conference finals.

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Los Angeles is trying to become the first MLS team to win three straight titles.

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At Dynamo 2, Red Bulls 2

Ricardo Clark and Omar Cummings scored in the second half to lead Houston back from a two-goal halftime deficit, giving the Dynamo a draw with top-seeded New York in the first leg of their East semifinal series.

Tim Cahill and Eric Alexander scored for the Red Bulls in the first 32 minutes.

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