Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs LA GALAXY
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
March 22, 2014 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #19)
2 p.m. MT (NBCSN, free stream at NBCSports.com)

Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy meet for the second time in three weeks to open the new season when they face off Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium before an NBC Sports Network audience. Real claimed a 1-0 win in the opener at StubHub Center, saved by a late penalty kick stop. In the meantime, RSL reached a 3-3 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, while the Galaxy were dumped out of the CONCACAF Champions League by Mexico’s Club Tijuana.

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REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. SAR (bench): Ian Anderson; JAR (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 24 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 6; pens: 7

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (26 meetings): Real 11 wins, 44 goals … Galaxy 10 wins, 40 goals … Ties 5
AT SALT LAKE (12 meetings): Real 5 wins, 22 goals … Galaxy 3 wins, 18 goals … Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 7/12: LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT

2014 (MLS)
3/8: LA 0, RSL 1 (Plata 80)

  • This is the second meeting of the season between the clubs. Real Salt Lake took a 1-0 win in the season opener for both teams, March 8 at StubHub Center.
  • The teams met last year in a gripping Western Conference Semifinal, Real Salt Lake coming back to take the series 2-1 on aggregate following an extra-time win in the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium to end the Galaxy’s bid for a third consecutive title.
  • It was the third time in five seasons the teams had met in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy claimed a 3-1 victory over Real in the 2011 Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center. They also met in MLS Cup 2009 in Seattle, dramatically won by Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes.
  • Coaches record: Jeff Cassar vs. LA: P1 W1 L0 D0 … Bruce Arena v RSL: P17 W6 L7 D4

LAST MEETING (MLS):

  • The game's lone goal came in the 80th minute. Kyle Beckerman found Joao Plata all alone at the penalty spot with a through ball, and he finished easily past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
  • Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando then saved the victory in stoppage time. After a Galaxy striker Rob Friend went down over Tony Beltran while leaping for a cross, referee Javier Santos pointed to the spot. But Rimando dived to deny Robbie Keane's spot kick to preserve the full three points.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Omar Gonzalez, James Riley - Gyasi Zardes (Stefan Ishizaki 69), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 88), Landon Donovan - Robbie Keane, Samuel (Rob Friend 77).
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Luis Gil (Luke Mulholland 66), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales (Cole Grossman 78) - Joao Plata (Jordan Allen 89), Alvaro Saborio.

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake remained undefeated to open the new season, though they were hauled back into a 3-3 draw by the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. RSL are one of four teams tied atop the Western Conference with 4 points from 2 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Earthquakes took the lead in the sixth minute when Chris Wondolowski scored from point-blank range, using his right thigh to redirect Victor Bernardez’s flick header off a long free kick by Shea Salinas.
  • But Real Salt Lake equalized just five minutes later. Joao Plata laid off a ball into space for Kyle Beckerman to strike with his left foot from 27 yards, putting the ball in off the inside of the right post.
  • RSL made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute. Plata beat two defenders from the left wing, traded give-and-go passes with Luis Gil and deked a Quakes defender before pulling a 12-yard strike just inside the near post.
  • Luke Mulholland put RSL up 3-1 in first-half stoppage time, racing past a scrambled San Jose defense to pick up the rebound of Ned Grabavoy’s shot and slot home from 8 yards.
  • San Jose was given life in the 75th minute when Bernardez connected with a Salinas corner on a near-post run and skimmed his header inside the open back post.
  • Then there yet again late magic from the Quakes. From a last-ditch cross from Shaun Francis, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando tried to punch clear, but the ball barely made it out of the visitors’ goal area, where Bernardez hammered it home with almost the final kick of the game some 5 minutes into stoppage time.
  • RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made one change to the team that defeated the LA Galaxy 1-0 in the season opener at StubHub Center. Luke Mulholland came into the midfield in place of Javier Morales.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund (Carlos Salcedo 71), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland (Cole Grossman 69) - Luis Gil - Joao Plata (Jordan Allen 82), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

  • For a second consecutive season, Real opened the campaign with back-to-back road games, this year gaining points in both contests. It’s the third time in four seasons RSL has gone undefeated in its first two games to start the season, though it was back-to-back wins in both 2011 and 2012.
  • “I think if we didn’t give them any fouls or free kicks and defended set pieces well, it’s a different result; probably a win for us, but we have some stuff to work on,” said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. “It’s early in the year. I’m just really proud of the guys. Four points in two road games – super pleased with that. It feels like a loss right now, but at the end of the day, it’s a point on the road against a very difficult team.”
  • Playmaker Javier Morales did not make the trip with a quadriceps injury, and Luis Gil was moved into the attacking midfield role. Newly acquired English midfielder Luke Mulholland made his first MLS start.
  • There was an injury-forced substitution in the RSL back line, as Aaron Maund had to come off with 20 minutes to play with a hamstring injury. Real were already missing defenders Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe to injury.
  • Joao Plata made it two goals from two games to start the 2014 season, and now has scored in the last three league games, netting in the regular season finale last year vs. Chivas USA.
  • “[LA] Galaxy and the San Jose [Earthquakes] back-to-back on the schedule is daunting for any team or player. Both teams play physical soccer and you just have to be up for the challenge. We did that [in San Jose], but just fell short,” said Plata.
  • Nick Rimando suffered back spasms during the first half of the San Jose game, but made it to the end of the match. He is expected to be available this weekend.
  • “Never had a feeling like that with my back,” Rimando said. “With some treatment, the back loosened up. No problems at all. I feel 100 percent today.” Added Cassar: “Nick knows his body better than anybody. He looked great today, I'm looking forward to seeing him play this weekend.”

LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy return to league play with the back end of their MLS-season opening home-and-home series with Real Salt Lake, falling 1-0 in the season opener at StubHub Center. The Galaxy sit at the foot of the Western Conference with 0 points from 1 game.

TEAM NEWS

  • For the second time in three seasons, the Galaxy opened the season with a home loss to Real Salt Lake, also falling 3-1 to start the 2012 campaign.
  • The Galaxy took 27 attempts at goal, nine of those on target, in the loss to RSL. The 27 shots matched the single-game season-high from a year ago (VAN vs. DAL, April 27; KC vs. NY, Aug. 3).
  • “We had some good chances, we did not finish any of our chances, and the penalty at the end of the game,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “What can you say? Those are wasted chances. We should have gotten at least a point out of this game.”
  • Robbie Keane missed his second penalty kick in eight attempts since coming to MLS. He had previously missed on his first attempt, in 2012, vs. FC Dallas (Chris Seitz).
  • “I think I missed opportunities certainty in the first half and it certainly cost us the game, no question about that. I think that with the chances that we had, we could have killed the game. We didn’t and let them get back into the game,” said Keane. “It was a lot of positives in this game, certainly a lot of positives but if you don’t take chances you don’t win games. That’s just the way it goes. We certainly have players on this team that can score a lot of goals.”
  • Samuel partnered Robbie Keane in attack for the Galaxy, with Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes providing the promptings from wide midfield role.
  • “Samuel did well at the start; it took him a while to get into the game. He had a few glimpses here and there. Rob [Friend] was certainly a trap when he came on, especially suited him because we were losing the game,” said Keane. “A lot of balls going forward in the air, and obviously that’s his game. Overall we are disappointed with the result because it’s certainly a game that we should have won in the first half.”
  • On Tuesday, the Galaxy were dumped out of the CONCACAF Champions League at the quarterfinal stage, falling 4-2 to Liga MX side Club Tijuana, falling 4-3 on aggregate. Robbie Keane scored both goals for the Galaxy (47, 85) – but Tijuana had a 3-0 lead after just 27 minutes.
  • “When you start a game like that, you don't deserve it,” said Donovan, who set up both of Keane's goals. “We lost the game in the first 25 minutes, we know that. It's disappointing, because we know what we're capable of, we've shown what we're capable of, and, unfortunately for us, we were a little naïve.”
  • Here’s the Galaxy team: Jaime Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, James Riley (Todd Dunivant 46’); Gyasi Zardes (Stefan Ishizaki 69’), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Landon Donovan; Robbie Keane, Samuel (Rob Friend 46’)
  • In the first leg on March 12, the Galaxy claimed a 1-0 win at StubHub Center, behind an 11th-minute goal by Samuel.
  • Here’s the Galaxy team: Jaime Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, James Riley; Gyasi Zardes, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 84’), Landon Donovan; Robbie Keane, Samuel (Stefan Ishizaki 69’)