After the initial round of penalty kicks ended in a 3-3 tie, the shootout advanced into the sudden death phase. The Galaxy shot first, with Chris Klein scoring, but Real Salt Lake's Chris Wingert made his shot, continuing the shootout.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, a former UCLA standout, stopped the penalty kick by Edson Buddle. Real Salt Lake won the shootout as Robbie Russell -- who hadn't scored a goal all season -- made his kick.
The Galaxy took a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute on a goal by Mike Magee off assists by David Beckham and Landon Donovan. Real Salt Lake tied the score in the 64th minute on a goal by Robbie Findley, who played in nine games for the Galaxy in 2007.
The loss continued the Galaxy's futility against Real Salt Lake. The Galaxy was 0-2-4 in its previous six games against Real Salt Lake,
Real Salt Lake became the first Major League Soccer team to win its championship despite a sub-.500 record in the regular season. Real Salt Lake earned the last of the league's four wild-card playoff berths with an 11-12-7 record, qualifying on a tiebreaker over D.C. United and Colorado.
Real Salt Lake was then shifted to the Eastern Conference for playoff purposes, ousting defending champion Columbus, which had the league's best record, in the first round and defeating the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference final, 5-4, on penalty kicks after regulation play and overtime ended in a scoreless tie.
The Galaxy's 12-6-12 regular-season record matched Houston for second-best in the league a year after sharing the league's worst record. The Galaxy had missed the playoffs in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The loss was the Galaxy's fourth in its six MLS Cup appearances. The Galaxy lost in overtime in the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996, then lost the 1999 and 2001 games. The Galaxy won championships in 2002 and 2005.