Real Salt Lake, en route to Southern California for Saturday's Major League Soccer showdown with the Galaxy, opened its U.S. Open Cup campaign Wednesday night by beating the San Jose Earthquakes on penalties following a 3-3 draw in Santa Clara.
RSL, which beat the Galaxy on penalties following a 1-1 draw in last November's MLS Cup final, outfired the Earthquakes, 5-3, in the shootout to advance in MLS's qualifying tournament for a berth in the tournament proper.
Robbie Findley scored in the seventh minute and Nelson Gonzalez in the 60th to give the Utahns a 2-0 lead, but they needed defender Nat Borchers' header from Robbie Russell's cross with three minutes to go in overtime to survive.
San Jose rallied on goals by Chris Leitch in the 68th minute and Arturo Alvarez in the 88th to force an extra 30 minutes, then went ahead on Justin Morrow's 103rd-minute strike from Alvarez's through ball.
The U.S. Open Cup is America's oldest soccer competition, dating to 1914. The Galaxy and Chivas USA are among six MLS clubs who, through their regular-season record last year, qualified directly into the cup. They'll begin play in the third round, which is expected to be played in late June or early July.
Colorado opened MLS's qualifying phase Tuesday with a 2-1 victory at Kansas City.
Real Salt Lake will in May play the winner of the April 28 D.C. United-FC Dallas match for one of two open MLS berths in the tournament.
The MLS qualifying schedule (all times Pacific) and scores (home teams listed first):
Kansas City 1 (Bunbury 4), Colorado 2 (Thompson 24, 80)
Philadelphia at New York, April 27, 5 p.m., Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
New England Revolution at Philadelphia/New York, May 12, time and site TBA
Colorado vs. New England/New York/Philadelphia, date, time and site TBA
San Jose 3 (Leitch 68, Alvarez 88, Morrow 103)
Real Salt Lake 3 (Findley 7, Gonzalez 60, Borchers 117), OT, Real Salt Lake advances on penalties, 5-3
FC Dallas at D.C. United, April 28, 4:30 p.m., RFK Stadium (Washington)
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas/D.C. United, date, time and site TBA
Orange County native Scott French has been writing about soccer for more than 30 years for dozens of publications and Web sites. He was senior editor at Soccer America and was managing editor of MajorSoccerLeague Magazine from April 2007 until last summer. He has covered three World Cups for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Los Angeles Daily News, two Women's World Cups for Soccer America, the Olympic Games, European Championship, U-20 World Cup, eight MLS Cups and all four professional women's championship games.