Preview: Shield on the line as LA host Real Salt Lake

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LA GALAXY vs REAL SALT LAKE
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
October 1, 2011
10:30 p.m. ET (PT; KMYU-2.2; watch  LIVE online)

For the LA Galaxy to claim the Supporters’ Shield, they must beat visiting Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center on Saturday evening, and hope that Seattle fail to win earlier that day. The Galaxy are riding a six-game unbeaten run after their 1-0 win at Columbus last weekend. Real have lost two in a row by big margins, last a 3-0 loss at home to the Chicago Fire at midweek.

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REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Ramon Hernandez
MLS Career: 210 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 57; pens: 43

INJURY REPORT:
LA GALAXY – OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee surgery); DF Gregg Berhalter (R foot sprain); DF Sean Franklin (R knee inflammation); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (back spasms); MF Chris Birchall (L hamstring strain); FW Robbie Keane (R gluteus tightness); FW Mike Magee (R hamstring strain); GK Donovan Ricketts (R quad tightness)
REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: DF Tony Beltran (L adductor strain); MF Nelson González (R foot fracture); DOUBTFUL: GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle bone spur); DF Robbie Russell (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Nick Rimando (L shoulder impingement); PROBABLE: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:
none

SUSPENDED:
RSL: Kyle Beckerman (through Oct. 2)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:

  • LA: David Beckham, Frankie Hejduk
  • RSL: Fabian Espindola

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:

  • LA: Chris Birchall, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Juninho, Michael Stephens
  • RSL: Jean Alexandre, Robbie Russell, Collen Warner, Chris Wingert

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (18 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins, 26 goals … Real 7 wins, 30 goals … Ties 5
  • AT LA (9 meetings): Galaxy 5 wins, 14 goals … Real 3 wins, 13 goals … Ties 1
  • When the teams first met this season, Javier Morales scored twice and set a third, Paulo Junior had a goal and an assist and Andy Williams also tallied as RSL recorded a 4-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 26.
  • The Galaxy have not won at Salt Lake since a 3-2 victory April 29, 2006 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Real have won two of the six meetings since in Utah, including a 1-0 win last June 9, the Galaxy’s first loss of 2010.
  • The teams have split their last four meetings at The Home Depot Center, winning on alternate years (the Galaxy won 2-1 on April 17 of last season).
  • Coaches' records: Bruce Arena vs. RSL: P9 W2 L3 D4 … Jason Kreis vs. LA: P10 W4 L2 D4

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 3/26: RSL 4, LA 1 (Williams 2; Morales 9 pen, 41; Paulo Junior 68 – Angel 80)
  • RSL took the lead in just the second minute through Andy Williams. A cross from Paulo Junior found its way to Williams at the far post, and the Jamaican one-timed it past Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
  • The lead was doubled after nine minutes. Paulo Junior ran onto a ball over the top and was knocked down by an the onrushing Saunders. Referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot and Javier Morales converted the penalty.
  • Real made it 3-0 in the 41st minute when Morales corralled a throw in from Chris Wingert from the left side. Sprinting toward the middle, Morales sizzled a shot into the far-side netting.
  • An unfortunate defensive miscue by the Galaxy iced the game in the 68th minute. A seemingly harmless outlet pass to Espíndola bounced past two LA defenders, and the Argentinean was able to rush down the left side. His cross to the far post found Paulo Junior, who had only to redirect the ball into goal.
  • The Galaxy pulled back a goal in the 80th minute when Juan Pablo Ángel knocked in a David Beckham free kick service sent in from the right, amid a great deal of congestion in the RSL area.

REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando – Robbie Russell (Tony Beltran 63), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert – Andy Williams (Collen Warner 69), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy – Javier Morales – Paulo Araujo Jr. (Luis Gil 77), Fabian Espindola
LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant - David Beckham (Bryan Jordan 88), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Paolo Cardozo 58) - Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez 46).

LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy made it six games without loss, getting a late goal for a 3-2 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Galaxy have 61 points from 30 games on the season, leading the Western Conference and the MLS overall table.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came three minutes into second-half stoppage time. Landon Donovan took a pass from Sean Franklin and fired a powerful drive that William Hesmer was able to save but not hold, and Chad Barrett was quickest to it to knock the ball into the empty net.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made five changes to the team that eased to a 3-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at The Home Depot Center. Frankie Hejduk came into the back four for Todd Dunivant, Juninho and Michael Stephens came into midfield for Mike Magee and David Beckham, and Adam Cristman and Miguel Lopez came up top with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane taken out of the first XI.

LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Josh Saunders - Frankie Hejduk, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Bryan Jordan - Chris Birchall (Landon Donovan 62), Juninho, Michael Stephens - Paolo Cardozo - Adam Cristman (Chad Barrett 84), Miguel Lopez (Mike Magee 68).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Galaxy will clinch the Supporters’ Shield, given to the team with the best overall record in league play, for a second consecutive season and the fourth time in club history, with a victory or a draw on Saturday.
  • With a huge CONCACAF Champions League game ahead at midweek, Arena took the opportunity to rotate his squad. Todd Dunivant missed his first game of the season, and David Beckham did not make the trip. Frankie Hejduk was given the captain’s armband to face his long-time former club.
  • “I think on the night we played well. We got a real good effort out of a bunch of players,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
  • Landon Donovan was also held out of the first team, making his first substitute appearance in two years. “It helps a lot,” Donovan said. “I felt today as fresh as I’ve felt in a long time. I think a lot of guys felt the same way.”
  • Robbie Keane did not make the trip either, suffering from a gluteus injury, after starting and playing 84 minutes vs. Vancouver.
  • “It’s been a tough grind, a lot of games in a short period of time and it took its toll on him,” Arena said. “He had a little bit of a nagging injury and it made it a little worse. He’s had time to get better over the last week, so hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”
  • For the Galaxy, the shutout was the 16th of the season, now one away from the MLS record set by the then- Kansas City Wizards in 2000 when they won MLS Cup. They are riding a scoreless streak of 270 minutes in league play.
  • Josh Saunders recorded his seventh shutout in league play and his ninth in all competitions. Donovan Ricketts has seven in MLS this season. Brian Perk added one in his lone MLS start, and Ricketts, Saunders and Mike Magee shared one in a scoreless draw with San Jose.
  • “Josh has a nice, calming effect,” Dunivant said. “He’s stepped up all year like we knew he would. It’s not a surprise at all. Seeing how many shutouts he has this year and the stats he’s put up, it speaks for itself. We’re thrilled to have Josh as another option. He’s a starter in this league, no question about it.”
  • On Wednesday, the Galaxy recorded a vital 2-1 win against Monarcas Morelia of Mexico at The Home Depot Center. Mike Magee gave the Galaxy a first-half lead, then after Rafael Marquez Lugo leveled terms on the hour, Juninho scored in stoppage time to give LA the victory.
  • Here’s the Galaxy team: Josh Saunders - Frankie Hejduk (Hector Jimenez 74), Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Stephens, Paolo Cardozo, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Adam Cristman (Chad Barrett 67), Mike Magee (Bryan Jordan 46)
  • “Given what happened in Morelia, we thought it was a little bit unjustified,” Donovan said. “The world has a crazy thing of working out when you do things the right way, so I’m proud of our guys for continuing to put in the effort and have the attitude that we could still get that goal. And it paid off.”

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake went down to a heavy defeat for a second consecutive game, falling 3-0 to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL is in third place in the Western Conference, with 51 points from 30 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Chicago opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Patrick Nyarko and Daniel Paladini combined on the left side of the penalty area before the ball went to Pappa in the heart of the area for a shot that beat RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
  • Two minutes later, the home side when down a man when Kyle Beckerman appeared to head-butt Paladini, who had given him a nudge from behind just moments prior, and Beckerman was sent off by referee Baldomero Toledo.
  • The Fire took advantage in the 39th minute. After slipping through an attempted tackle in the area, Pappa was able to pick out his target on the left side of the goal and scored his second on the night.
  • The Fire and Pappa completed their night in the 75th minute from the right wing. The Guatemalan international got free on the right flank and cut into the area, lifting an angled shot past Rimando inside the far post to complete his hat trick.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis returned to his first-choice team, making seven changes from the team that fell to a 4-1 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Only goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert and midfielder Kyle Beckerman kept their spots.

REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell (Chris Schuler 46), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Javier Morales 60) - Kyle Beckerman (sent off 11) - Andy Williams, Luis Gil (Yordany Alvarez 15), Will Johnson - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

  • After conceding seven goals in the last two goals, Real Salt Lake now have a goals-against-average of 1.00 – the first time they’ve allowed a goal or more per game overall since early last season.
  • “I’m really, really aggravated, I think is the best word. For me, a complete lack of discipline to give away a goal on a throw-in, which you have heard me harp on again and again, you’ve heard me say it too many times,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis. “To give away a goal that softly is a complete lack of discipline by every player that is in that area of the field, but it happened. Then Kyle (Beckerman’s) ejection, a complete lack of discipline. Then every dangerous chance that was created against us was a complete lack of discipline.”
  • It was also the second time in as many games RSL had seen an opposing player score a hat trick, after Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United hit for a treble. There have been 10 hat tricks scored in MLS this season – the second-most in a single season in MLS history to 1998, when 13 were scored.
  • “After conceding four goals against D.C. (United) in the first half – they were actually some pretty good goals – I think that’s going to happen maybe once a season where you have a game like that,” said defender Nat Borchers. “But for it to happen two games in a row it is disappointing, and I think if there is going to be a wakeup call, it’s right now.”
  • Javier Morales made his first appearance after suffering a fractured ankle in the May 7 game vs. Chivas USA, coming on for the final half-hour.
  • “I was very pleased that he got out there. He seemed to make it through OK, he had some good touches and the crowd’s response was fantastic,” Kreis said. “I think emotionally everyone was really, really pleased to see him get out there.”
  • Said Morales: “I said before the game, I didn’t care about tackles. I was thinking about a lot, so I just have to play now. It’s going to happen so I have to be ready and I have to be strong.”
  • After putting together a record two-year home unbeaten streak, Real have lost three times this season at Rio Tinto Stadium in league play (also: May 28 to Seattle, July 30 to Columbus)
  • “I think come playoff time we’ll be all right,” said midfielder Will Johnson. “This is a team that’s been through a lot of great games, a lot of tough games and a lot of ups and downs, and you would like to think if you’re not going in (to the playoffs) on a 10-game winning streak that you can still pull together and get some results.”
  • With a draw or a loss against the Galaxy, and the failure for Seattle to win in New England, the Galaxy will claim the Supporters’ Shield.
  • “When this group doesn’t have its back against the wall it tends to relax, and I think that’s what you get when a group relaxes,” Kreis said. “It loses focus, it loses the discipline to do all the little things it takes for our group to win."