Find out how MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Nick Firchau see Saturday's Western Conference clash going. Give their Scouting Report preview a watch above
Real Salt Lake last met LA Galaxy on March 22 in its 2014 home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium, drawing 1-1 with the southern California side. But now the tables are turned and RSL will be facing the Galaxy on its home turf at StubHub Center for the second time this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt pulled off a 1-0 win in its season opener at LA on March 8. RSL will be looking to remain undefeated against the SoCal side in the regular season for just the third time in RSL history when they clash on Saturday.
The last meeting between the sides saw a beautiful half-volley scored by RSL forward Alvaro Saborio and a nice finish from LA forward Robbie Keane to top off an excellent individual effort. Saborio will be unable to do a repeat performance as he is still recovering from his foot injury, but that leaves room for one of the other Claret-and-Cobalt strikers to step up and deliver. Get pumped for tomorrow’s match by reliving RSL’s 2014 home opener.
Real Salt Lake hits the road on Saturday, taking on Western Conference rival LA Galaxy at StubHub Center at 8:30 p.m. MT. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on CW30, ESPN 700 and 102.3 La Gran D FM.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:
Real Salt Lake looks to go undefeated v. LA in 2014 regular season
Saturday’s match in California will be the third and final regular season meeting between RSL and LA Galaxy. The two sides met twice in March this year with the claret-and-Cobalt pulling off a 1-0 win in its season opener at StubHub Center on March 8, and then drawing 1-1 two weeks later at Rio Tinto Stadium. If RSL gets a positive result this weekend, it will mark only the second time in Claret-and-Cobalt history that RSL has gone undefeated in the regular season against LA.
Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record
Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 60-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 355 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 17 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.
Morales and Donovan look to continue success against each other
RSL’s Javier Morales and LA’s Landon Donovan have torched each other’s teams in their MLS careers. Morales has put up five goals and eight assists in 16 career regular season games against the Galaxy. Those numbers are impressive, but Donovan has done Javi one better, registering nine goals and nine assists with LA in 20 career regular season games against RSL. Donovan’s nine goals and nine assists are the second-most against RSL of any player in MLS history in both categories.
Beckerman and Rimando remain undefeated in 2014 MLS play
RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando are still currently undefeated in MLS play in 2014. The U.S. international duo left for World Cup duty after the club’s 5-2 win at Houston Dynamo on May 11, and up until that point the Claret-and-Cobalt were still undefeated in MLS play. Upon the duo’s return to Salt Lake last Friday, RSL pulled off a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution to keep RSL undefeated in 2014 when both players are in the lineup. Beckerman’s only defeat this entire year came at the hands of Germany, in the U.S.’s 1-0 loss in the group stage of the World Cup. Even if the club is no longer undefeated (RSL went 1-3-2 in their absence) Beckerman and Rimando can still keep their individual streak alive this weekend.
What you might not know is that Beckerman’s and Rimando’s call-ups mark the third-straight time that RSL has put at least one player on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup squad. That’s right: RSL has put a player on the USMNT’s World Cup squad in all three World Cups that the club has existed for.
In 2006, RSL sent defender Eddie Pope to Germany with the U.S. In 2010, it was forward Robbie Findley that made the trip, heading to South Africa for the Americans’ run to the Round of 16. Both players featured for the U.S. at the World Cup, with Pope starting two of the U.S.’s three games in 2006 and Findley getting the nod in three of the U.S.’s four contests in 2010.
RSL is one of just two clubs to put a player on the U.S. team for each of the last three World Cups. The only other? LA Galaxy, which has sent a player to the USMNT in each of the five World Cups it has been around for.
RSL is one of just three teams to put a player on the USMNT’s World Cup roster for every World Cup of the club’s existence, joining LA and the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, which put a player on the 1998 U.S. World Cup roster before folding after the 2001 MLS season.
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen had a bit of a go at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday, telling reporters at TFC’s media availability that he thinks that Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio should be suspended for his challenge on LA’s A.J. DeLaGarza (video above) in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
Nelsen’s the latest to hop in on the debate, which began on Saturday when LA’s Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez called for Saborio to be suspended in postgame comments after the RSL-LA match at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Nelsen commented on Saborio after fielding questions about TFC midfielder Jackson, who Nelsen predicted will likely get suspended for this elbow to DC’s Davy Arnaud.
“That could have broken his leg,” Nelsen said of Saborio’s challenge in a report by Sportsnet’s John Molinaro. “If Jackson gets suspended, you’d like to hope that a [player] who has nearly broken a guy’s leg is going to get suspended as well. You never know, though. I don’t make up the rules.”
Nelsen also commented on TFC’s early season schedule on Tuesday, calling it “probably the toughest start of any team in the whole of the league.”
Here’s Toronto’s start: at Seattle, v. DC, at RSL, at Columbus, v. Colorado, at Dallas.
Here’s RSL’s: at LA, at San Jose, v. LA, v. Toronto, at Kansas City, at Philadelphia.
And, just for good measure, here’s Colorado’s: at New York, v. Portland, v. Kansas City, at Vancouver, at Toronto, v. San Jose.
We’ll let you be the judge.
As always, ABC 4’s Real Sports Live did a great job of covering Real Salt Lake on Sunday night, going in-depth on the Claret-and-Cobalt’s home opening 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy.
RSL defender Nat Borchers appeared on this week’s show, talking about Saturday’s match with ABC 4’s Wesley Ruff. Check out Nat’s interview above.
Nice work from MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek previewing Saturday's RSL-LA tilt. Check out their scouting report above.
MLSsoccer.com’s Scott Pierce updated Real Salt Lake’s injury situation on Wednesday, writing up a piece off of RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s Tuesday media availability.
First, the good news: RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is a go for Saturday’s home opener against LA Galaxy after having some back issues last weekend at San Jose.
Now, the bad: Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Sebastian Velasquez and defender Aaron Maund will both miss the match due to hamstring injuries. Forwards Robbie Findley – recovering from surgery – and Devon Sandoval – rehabbing a preseason foot injury – will also miss the match.
RSL’s questionable contingent includes midfield maestro Javier Morales, defender Chris Schuler, defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and midfielder Jordan Allen. Morales missed Saturday’s draw at San Jose with a back injury, Schuler is coming back from offseason surgery and has yet to play this year, Watson-Siriboe is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last summer and Allen hurt his ankle in an appearance off the bench at San Jose.
Cassar expanded on RSL’s health situation on “The Bill & Hans Show” on ESPN 700 on Tuesday afternoon, talking to Hans Olsen and fill-in host Keith Stubbs at the club’s Meet the Team event from Scheels in Sandy.
You can listen to Cassar’s full interview here. Here’s what he had to say regarding the club’s injuries:
On the injury situation as a whole:
“They’re all progressing. I think Sebastian Velasquez maybe took a step backwards, he kind of re-aggravated his hamstring while training with the guys that didn’t travel [to San Jose last weekend], but all the other ones are progressing. Whether they’ll be available or not we’ll have to evaluate that in the next few days.”
On Nick Rimando and Aaron Maund:
“Nicky’s feeling great. He just had a spasm that tightened up during the game, but he’s feeling fantastic. He did great in training today. Aaron has a hamstring pull, he’s probably day to day, but I’d say it’s not looking good for him this weekend.”
On whether having this many injuries is rare this early in the season:
“A lot of them are things that happened last year. Chris Schuler, Devon Sandoval, Robbie Findley, they’re carrying over from [older injuries], so we’re trying to be careful. It’s a long season and we don’t want them to stay injured, so we’re trying to be careful. Robbie’s a little bit further away, but Schuler’s starting to get into full training sessions, so we’re really happy about that.”