Real Salt Lake’s match at LA on Saturday will pit two of the top head coaches in Major League Soccer against each other in RSL’s Jason Kreis and the Galaxy’s Bruce Arena.
Kreis and Arena have crossed paths numerous times over the last 20 years, beginning in the early 1990’s, when Kreis – and RSL GM Garth Lagerwey – and the Duke Blue Devils would regularly butt heads with Arena’s Virginia Cavaliers in fiercely-fought ACC contests.
The battles continued in MLS, with Kreis bagging five goals and compiling a 4-6-0 record with Dallas and RSL in 10 matches against Arena’s D.C. United and New York Red Bulls squads.
It was against Arena and those same Red Bulls against which Kreis made his coaching debut, with RSL coming back for a miracle 3-3 draw on May 5, 2007 at Rice-Eccles Stadium marking the first – but far from only – time the coaches two squads would play to a memorable finish.
Historically, Kreis and Arena are two of the most successful coaches in MLS. Arena is a U.S. soccer legend, winning four MLS Cups, three Supporters’ Shields, six conference titles and three Coach of the Year awards. He’s second in league history to Seattle’s Sigi Schmid with 154 wins and 488 points and his winning percentage of .599 is the best all-time mark in MLS.
Kreis, who, at age 40, is 21 years younger than the 61-year-old Arena, stacks up rather nicely against his older counterpart, currently sitting in fourth-place amongst active coaches with 85 wins, 309 points and a .541 winning percentage. The two are the only coaches in MLS to lead their teams to 50 point, 15 win seasons in each of the last three years.
As a young coach, Kreis still has a good deal of growing to do, something he readily admitted on the Ford Postgame Show following last Saturday’s 1-0 home win over the Houston Dynamo and their successful head man Dominic Kinnear.
You can check out Kreis’s comments at the 2:45 mark of the above video or read them below:
“I’m still learning, I’m still learning for sure,” Kreis told RSL color commentator Brian Dunseth. “I think that I feel a lot more confident during the match about what I’m seeing and the ability to change things during the match. That’s probably been the latest thing that I’ve felt really, really confident [about], seeing where the spaces are to exploit, what our opponent’s doing against us and causing us trouble with and how to tinker with that a little bit during the match. That’s probably the latest thing that’s come and I think that there’s still a lot more for me to learn and I’m excited about it.”
We’ll see if Kreis can get one over on Arena on Saturday night at StubHub Center. The two are even against each other this year, with Arena and the Galaxy beating RSL 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 27 before Kreis and the Claret-and-Cobalt down LA 3-1 at home on June 8. Saturday’s match kicks at 8:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on ABC 4.
Two late goals from forward Olmes Garcia powered Real Salt Lake to a 3-1 win over LA in the sides last meeting on June 8 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Garcia's first goal - an 84th minute "header" that put the Claret-and-Cobalt up 2-1 - was followed by one of RSL's best celebrations of the year, with Garcia running to the sideline to salsa with fellow RSL attacker Joao Plata.
Check out full highlights from the June 8 home win above.
I know, I know, some of you might not like it, but both Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando chose Landon Donovan when asked by MLSsoccer.com at Tuesday's All-Star practice which fellow All-Star they'd like to take back to their team.
True to RSL's "Team is the Star" mentality, neither Beckerman nor Rimando opted to kick anyone off of the Claret-and-Cobalt.
Real Salt Lake extended its unbeaten streak to five games across all competitions on Saturday night, beating the LA Galaxy 3-1 in front of a solid crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:
Forward Olmes Garcia scored two goals in 29 minutes of action on Saturday to lead RSL to victory. The 20-year-old Colombian attacker now has four goals in 401 MLS minutes, giving him 0.9 goals per 90 minutes, the best rate in the league for anyone with more than one goal. Garcia has also hit the woodwork an astonishing four times this season.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Khari Stephenson on Saturday became the 10th Claret-and-Cobalt player to score a goal in league play this year. RSL only had 10 scorers in league play in all of 2012.
Saturday’s win moved RSL to 5-1-1 in its last seven MLS matches, tied with Seattle for the best record in the league in that span. The Claret-and-Cobalt leads the league with 16 league points since the start of May.
RSL has scored 17 goals in its last seven MLS matches, the most in the league in that span. RSL is tied for first in the league with the Portland Timbers with 24 goals this season. The Claret-and-Cobalt has 20 goals in its last eight games across all competitions and has scored three goals in each of its last three matches across all comps.
RSL maestro Javier Morales had two assists on Saturday night. Javi now has five helpers this season, tied for second in MLS and just one behind Philadelphia forward Sebastien Le Toux for tops in the league. Morales now has five goals and seven assists in 13 career regular season matches against LA.
Garcia's brace on Saturday was the 43rd multi-goal performance in RSL's 311 game history across all competitions. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 36-3-4 when someone finds the net multiple times.
Real Salt Lake has a good history against the LA Galaxy, posting a 9-9-5 regular season mark against its Western Conference rival.
We've put together four of the Claret-and-Cobalt's "Signature Moments" against LA ahead of Saturday's 7:30 kick between the sides at Rio Tinto Stadium. Check 'em out below.
March 10, 2012 - RSL opens the 2012 season with a 3-1 win at the defending champion Galaxy.
Nov. 6, 2011 - It's not a happy memory, but no catalog of RSL-LA meetings would be complete without mentioning the Galaxy's 3-1 victory over the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 2011 Western Conference Final.
March 26, 2011 - RSL MF Andy Williams scores in the second minute - one of the quickest goals in club history - as RSL thrashes LA in the 2011 MLS home opener.
Nov. 22, 2009 - RSL's proudest moment: Beating LA in penalty kicks to lift the 2009 MLS Cup.
Nice video from the good folks over at MLSsoccer.com previewing Saturday's RSL-LA slugfest.
Fantastic video by Real Salt Lake videographer slick Nick Lamping ahead of Saturday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff between RSL and LA.
Three key absences for Real Salt Lake sounds a difficult proposition to handle, but options for each position — in the midfield, in defense, and up front — could mean RSL is in a better tactical position than one might readily imagine ahead of Saturday's home match against LA.
No Luis Gil means we'll be looking for a midfielder to take his place. Two options readily present themselves: Sebastian Velasquez has shown well this season and is stepping up in the system, but Khari Stephenson provides veteran experience and looked strong last week. The most reasonable approach, to my mind: Stephenson starts, Velasquez comes off the bench. Stephenson can manage the game well in midfield and provide a safe outlet; Velasquez can come on late and be his creative, spark self.
No Chris Schuler leads to a continuation with either Kwame Watson-Siriboe or Carlos Salcedo. Both have showed well so far, and Watson-Siriboe was massive against a pesky San Jose side. Watson-Siriboe had a rocky start to his season, but should he continue to impress, worries about an injured Chris Schuler might ease somewhat. Carlos Salcedo is a natural bench option with an eye on a Wednesday start.
No Alvaro Saborio leaves us again wondering about a tactical scenario. Is the Plata-Findley pairing for real? Can it work? It's hard to deny that chances have been created, and Saturday saw us looking somewhat near very, very good. Olmes Garcia could be an option but is likely to be eased back from injury, while Devon Sandoval might not yet be the sort of player that can dominate the Galaxy defense. But Plata-Findley presents its own challenges from a tactical perspective, but if those can be overcome, it's hard to argue with the selection.
It all leaves Real Salt Lake in an interesting position against one of MLS's better sides, but it leaves a good tactical position open. With the tendencies of Plata and Findley to drift wide, opportunities for midfielders emerge. Javier Morales is in fine form, Ned Grabavoy is in the best goalscoring form of his career, Khari Stephenson has a cannon of a foot and Kyle Beckerman can swing in the late shots himself.
The surprise? The Findley-Plata pairing could be one of our better options up front, regardless of injury concerns and international duty. The win against San Jose, however poor they've been this season, is partly owed to the results of effective movement up top, drawing defenders into poor positions and creating channels for midfield runs. Seeing more of that on Saturday would be precisely the sort of thing RSL needs to handle the Galaxy.
Real Salt Lake is set to continue its home stand on Saturday night, when it will take on the LA Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting storylines ahead of Saturday’s match:
RSL out for revenge
Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy have already met once this season, with RSL coming out flat and giving up two early goals to fall to LA 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 27.
RSL has posted a strong 5-1-1 record across all competitions since that match, but a bad taste still lingers. The Claret-and-Cobalt will want to remove that once and for all on Saturday with a win in its second – and final – home game of the regular season against the rival Galaxy.
While RSL has been hot since the April 27 meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium, LA has been in a slide, posting a 2-5-0 mark across all competitions since taking all three points on the Wasatch Front five weeks ago.
LA was blown out in its last match, giving up four second half goals to fall 5-0 at the New England Revolution on Sunday. After that performance, it’s a safe bet that the Galaxy will come into Saturday’s game focused and very, very hungry for a result.
Morales successful against Galaxy
Much like he does against San Jose, RSL midfielder Javier Morales has a very strong track record against the Galaxy, scoring five goals and tallying five assists in 12 career regular season games against LA.
Morales gave San Jose fits last week, scoring a goal and adding an assist in RSL’s 3-0 win over the Quakes last Saturday. The Claret-and-Cobalt is hoping he’ll be able to match that performance this weekend as he looks to strengthen his solid track record against the Galaxy.
The away team has won the last four games between Real Salt Lake and LA dating back to RSL’s 3-1 win at the Galaxy in the 2012 season opener. That’s a very odd statistic in any series, let alone one in which both teams are traditionally tough at home.
RSL, obviously, will be hoping to end that mark on Saturday with a win over its longtime Western Conference rival.
Both sides will be missing key players on Saturday due to international duty. RSL will be without three players, missing forward Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) and defender Abdoulie Mansally (Gambia) due to World Cup Qualifiers and midfielder Luis Gil (U.S.), who is with the U.S. Under-20’s ahead of this month’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. LA will be without star forward Robbie Keane (Ireland) and defender Omar Gonzalez (U.S.) for World Cup Qualifiers and U.S. U-20 Oscar Sorto. The Galaxy could also be without U.S. U-20 forward Jose Villarreal depending on when he departs for the team’s pre-World Cup camp.
Real Salt Lake's April 27 match against the LA Galaxy didn't go so well - the Claret-and-Cobalt conceded two early goals and couldn't break down LA's defense, eventually falling 2-0 at home to the back-to-back defending champs.
RSL takes on LA at Rio Tinto Stadium for the second - and final - time this regular season at 7:30 on Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt will be looking to exact a bit of payback on its longtime rival. Help the team out - show up early, wear red and, of course, be loud.