PREVIEW: RSL hosts LA in Sandy Showdown

League's two hottest teams put record unbeaten streaks on the line

RSL, Galaxy face off in a battle between the league's hottest teams

The Basics:

Los Angeles Galaxy (10-0-2, 32 points) vs Real Salt Lake (6-3-2, 20 points) at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

All-time Record:

LA leads the series with a 6-5-5 record against RSL.

TV info:

9:00PM ET, MLS Direct Kick

What's at stake?

This match between the top two teams in the Western Conference
features perhaps the two hottest teams in the league, as both teams
have five wins and a tie in their last six matches. The Galaxy are
undefeated on the season, and RSL are unbeaten at home in their last 18
matches. If LA win, the victory would set a record for the most
consecutive unbeaten games to start a season. RSL, on the other hand,
must win to keep the Galaxy within sight if they want to be able to
challenge for the Conference title by the end of the season.

Last meeting:

The two sides slugged it out at the Home Depot Center in mid-April, with the Galaxy walking out on top as Edson Buddle scored a brace in their 2-1 victory. RSL’s goal, which came off a long shot from Kyle Beckerman, is one of only three goals that LA have allowed this season.

Previous Classic Match:

The classic match from these two teams has to be last fall’s MLS
Cup. It took a dramatic penalty kick face-off for RSL to win their
first MLS Cup. The image of Salt Lake celebrating is permanently
emblazoned in the minds of RSL fans. But the same image may also help
motivate Galaxy players who are still seeking to avenge for that loss.

Heroes & Villains:

Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola vs. Donovan Ricketts:
Espíndola and Saborío have turned out to be a potent frontline duo for
Real Salt Lake, marking eight goals and five assists between the two.
However, they will face the formidable Ricketts. LA’s keeper has only
seen three balls get by him in 2010.

Galaxy attack vs. Jean Alexandre:
Alexandre has proven to be strong with the ball and a physical presence
from the holding midfield spot while filling in for team captain Kyle
Beckerman over a three-match stretch. The Galaxy, however, are a savvy
team that have shown that they can exploit their opponents’ weaknesses,
even without Buddle and Landon Donovan.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm…”:

These two teams are far out in front of the pack offensively, with
22 goals for the Galaxy and 21 goals for Real Salt Lake on the season.
However, RSL have surrendered 11 goals, nearly four times more than LA
have.

He said it:

“I think the guys are really up for it. This is not a match that
I’ll have to go in there in a few minutes and explain all the reasons
why we need to get up for it. There’s not a whole lot that needs to be
said.” – Jason Keis on his team’s motivation to play the Galaxy.

 

Keys to the Game

Real Salt Lake

  • Must control possession
  • Must not let LA’s stingy defense
    frustrate them
  • Need to finish chances

Los Angeles

  • Must continue to create a scoring punch while missing their two
    most productive attackers (Buddle, Donovan)
  • Must keep RSL off
    the board early
  • Cannot let RSL dictate the game
Injuries
Real Salt Lake

OUT: MF Kyle Beckerman (L foot tendon strain); MF Nelson Gonzalez (L
hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Chris Wingert (L hamstring strain)

Los Angeles

QUESTIONABLE: MF Dema Kovalenko (R hamstring strain); DF Leonardo (R
quad strain); FW Mike Magee (R hip soreness)