Clubs that met in MLS Cup 2009 and have developed a healthy rivalry over the past few years, Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy face off at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real opened their 2011 campaign on the road, coming away from the San Jose Earthquakes with a 1-0 victory. The Galaxy are still unbeaten on the campaign, after a 1-1 home draw with the New England Revolution at the weekend.
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero MLS Career: 107 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 27; pens: 38
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE – QUESTIONABLE: DF Jamison Olave (R hamstring strain); GK Nick Rimando (R ankle bone spur) . LA GALAXY – OUT: FW Adam Cristman (L knee surgery); MF Dan Keat (L heel fracture); DOUBTFUL: DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Donovan Ricketts (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Omar Gonzalez (R shoulder sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Will Johnson (Canada); Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica); Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador) ... LA: Landon Donovan (USA)
ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Real 6 wins, 26 goals ... Galaxy 6 wins, 25 goals ... Ties 5 AT SALT LAKE (8 meetings): Real 3 wins, 13 goals ... Galaxy 1 win, 11 goals ... Ties 4
RETURN MATCH: 10/1: LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/17: LA 2, RSL 1 (Buddle 12, 76 – Beckerman 41)
6/9: RSL 1, LA 0 (Morales 80)
- 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 five 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 record: Jason Kreis vs. LA: P9 W3 L2 D4 ... Bruce Arena vs. RSL: P8 W2 L2 D4
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake picked up right where they left off from the 2010 league campaign, opening the season with a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
- In a driving rain and heavy wind, Kyle Beckerman scored the game’s lone goal in the 63rd minute, lashing home a drive from outside the box that hit the inside of Jon Busch’s right-hand post.
- The only real change in Jason Kreis’s lineup was the insertion of Chris Schuler into central defense in place of the injured Jamison Olave.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy (Jean Alexandre 77), Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Javier Morales - Fabian Espindola (Arturo Alvarez 65), Alvaro Saborio (Paulo Araujo Jr. 84).
Real Salt Lake’s victory extended their league undefeated streak to 15 games, dating back to last July 17, when they lost 2-0 at FC Dallas. The 15-game streak is tied for third-longest in MLS history, four games behind the joint record held by FC Dallas (set in 2010) and Columbus Crew (2004-05).
- "When you have a huge game like our Champions League game and then you follow it up with a game like this, usually there's a letdown but I think we understood the situation," said RSL defender Nat Borchers to The Salt Lake Tribune. "This is a huge three points for us. I think this is going to pay dividends for us later down the line."
- [inline_node:327770]RSL has recorded three shutouts in four competitive matches this season, having allowed just one goal total in three games in the CONCACAF Champions League before the MLS opener.
- “Today was my day,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Luck was on my side today, and I was able to get a piece of those balls. ... Sometimes, I was trying to catch ‘em when I shouldn’t have caught them, and sometimes I was dropping them when I should have caught ‘em. But I think luck was on my side today.”
- Rimando was credited with 10 saves for the match, following a season where RSL set an MLS record with just 20 goals allowed (in 30 matches).
- “He just gives the defense a lot more confidence than otherwise,” Borchers said to the Tribune. “His communication, his shot-stopping ability, his distribution are excellent and gives us all confidence. Obviously, we got the shutout tonight, and attribute most of that to him.”
- With Jamison Olave out with an injury that forced off early in RSL’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Deportivo Saprissa, Chris Schuler stepped into central defense alongside Borchers. Schuler made one league start in 2010, a scoreless draw against Seattle on Sept. 9.
- "The rational decision was to play Rauwshan (McKenzie), and I was leaning that way all week," said Kreis to the Deseret News. "But we say it over and over, and I know people don't believe it sometimes, but what you do in the training sessions matters. And Rauwshan struggled a little bit in training this week and Chris stepped forward, and through the training sessions on Friday and Saturday, Chris convinced us that he needed to play."
- Kreis is already looking toward the second leg of the Champions League semifinal, to be played in Costa Rica on April 5. If Real reach the final, against the winner of the all-Mexican semifinal between Cruz Azul and Monterrey, those matches will be played April 19 and 26.
- “We’re going to have to really consider more rotation,” he said. “We did a lot last year, and I think we’re going to have to consider even more, because of the length of season.”
The LA Galaxy maintained their unbeaten start to the 2011 season, reaching a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution in their home opener Sunday evening at The Home Depot Center.
- The Revolution took the lead after just three minutes. Marko Perovic sent a cleared corner back into the box from the right and Sharlie Joseph knocked it home with a precise finish.
- [inline_node:331520]Juninho hit for the equalizer just before the halftime break, again scoring on a long-range strike that sailed just under the crossbar.
- Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made no changes to the team that defeated Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 the previous Tuesday at Qwest Field.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant - David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan - Mike Magee (Paolo Cardozo 63), Chad Barrett (Juan Pablo Angel 63).
With two long-range strikes in the opening two games of the season, Galaxy midfielder Juninho is tied atop the Golden Boot table after one week, along with D.C.’s Charlie Davies, SKC’s Omar Bravo and Vancouver’s Eric Hassli.
- "He's fitter," Arena said. "I think last year he really struggled to play 90 minutes. He's maturing. He knows the league. He knows our players. He's doing a better job getting forward. He's shown that he's a more dangerous player. He just looks like a more mature player."
- With Landon Donovan and David Beckham providing the attacking thrust from wide midfield positions, Juninho has taken over the central midfield spot.
- “He came in really sharp and he’d been training with São Paulo for a while before he got here,” Donovan said. “Through the preseason he’s been as consistent as anybody.”
- Josh Saunders started a second consecutive match in goal, with Donovan Ricketts still sidelined. The third-minute goal was the first he had conceded in a regular-season game since April 4, 2009. The 435 minutes between goals was the ninth-longest shutout streak in MLS history. Included MLS Cup play, Saunders had a shutout streak of 489 minutes.
- “We just did a poor job on the entire play, a poor job of giving the ball away maybe 30 seconds before that that resulted in the corner kick,” Arena said. “We didn’t do well in the opening minutes of the game and it cost us three points.”
- [inline_node:327503]Juan Pablo Angel made his Galaxy debut, coming on in the second half after missing out on the opener through injury. “I think he did well. He played close to 30 minutes. It is the first time he has actually been on the field in 11 days, so I think he played pretty well,” said Arena.
- In addition, Paolo Cardozo made his MLS debut, coming on with Angel in a complete change of strike pairs.
- “Obviously, Juan coming on, his play speaks for itself. He is such a talent and has such character. His experience is going to be great for the players and for the team,” said Donovan. “Paolo is a young player. He is still learning the game, but he came on and he kept the ball well, passed the ball, penetrated well towards their goal. He is going to be a very good player.”