SANDY, Utah -- Dave van den Bergh scored in the 28th minute and the New York Red Bulls defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 in Major League Soccer's Western Conference Finals on Saturday night to reach the MLS Cup for the first time in the club's history.
"I think we have to congratulate the guys, and the post," New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. "I have been disappointed sometimes with our luck, but I think we got it today."
Real Salt Lake hit the post three times on the frustrating night for the team playing in front of a sellout crowd of 20,008 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
John Wolyniec sent a low cross in front of the goal, which was deflected from the goal by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The attempted clearance went directly to van den Bergh, who scored in the empty net.
New York will take on the Columbus Crew, also playing for the MLS Cup for the first time, next Sunday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Real Salt Lake, which was also hoping to reach the MLS Cup for the first time in its short four-year history, nearly tied the game on several occasions in the second half.
Midfielder Javier Morales hit the post in stoppage time, just seconds before the official blew the final whistle.
Will Johnson's sliding shot also hit the post in the 81st minute and earlier in the 66th minute, Jamison Olave's shot sailed over the goal.
Morales also hit the post on a free kick in the 38th minute.
"Tonight it was just one of those nights with chance after chance," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "I don't know what else you can do. I drove myself to laughter on the bench. It was either that or cry."
New York, one of the original teams that started with MLS in 1996, also benefited from goalkeeper Danny Cepero's seven saves.
"This is great, but now we have a chance to really go for the biggest trophy in the United States," Osorio said.
The Red Bulls earned the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference via a wild-card spot, and beat the No. 1 seed Houston Dynamo 4-1 during a two-game aggregate goal series to reach the conference finals against No. 3 seed Real Salt Lake.
"For us the most important thing is our mentality," Cepero said. "Everybody's equal in the playoffs and in this league any team can beat any other team on any night."