Zlatan Ibrahimovic ensured LA Galaxy capitalised after rivals Los Angeles FC were held despite another Carlos Vela goal in MLS on Sunday.
Ibrahimovic scored a 78th-minute winner to see the Galaxy overcome Real Salt Lake 2-1 in California.
Uriel Antuna's tap-in for the Galaxy had been cancelled out by Donny Toia in the second half.
But Ibrahimovic struck his eighth goal of the season, side-footing in a Sebastian Lletget cross for the winner.
The result moved the Galaxy to within a point of Western Conference leaders Los Angeles FC, who drew 1-1 against nine-man Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle struck after just 45 seconds through Jordan Morris, who intercepted a poor back pass to open the scoring.
However, Vela scored his 11th goal of the season just three minutes later, the Mexican tapping in a Diego Rossi cross.
The Sounders were reduced to 10 men in the 18th minute when Cristian Roldan was sent off for making contact with the face of Eduard Atuesta in a scuffle.
Christian Ramirez missed the best chance of the second half when he somehow put an effort over from point-blank range for LAFC.
In an end-to-end finish to the game, Kelvin Leerdam was also sent off for the Sounders, who held on for a point.
Elsewhere, Eastern Conference leaders DC United suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Minnesota United at Allianz Field.
Montreal Impact moved level on points with DC thanks to a 1-0 victory at home to Chicago Fire.