The Los Angeles Galaxy head to Salt Lake City on Wednesday night to play Real Salt Lake for the fourth and final time this season, having lost their opening two matches on a four-game road swing. But after a 2-1 loss to Real just more than a month ago, the Galaxy are looking for a little payback, still seething at the loss at the hands of the expansion club.
In that game, the Galaxy squandered a number of scoring chances only to see a second half lead disappear into the Utah night. Since then the Galaxy have amassed a modest record of three wins and two draws in seven games -- the losses continuing the Galaxy's winless run away from their Home Depot Center home -- and a little payback is just what the team is looking for to get their season back on track.
"They stole one from us up there. We're definitely looking to come right at them," said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant. "It's a huge game for them. Their backs are against the wall."
The wall that Dunivant speaks of is the one that separates playoff teams from mere spectators come fall. At the start of last week, RSL sat in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, just in front of the Colorado Rapids. Buoyed by two wins in the past seven days, one of which was against the Galaxy, the Rapids have overtaken RSL for the final spot, and Real is now on the outside looking in.
At times, Real have looked like a solid playoff team. At other times they have looked like the expansion side that they are. They are currently on a streak that points more to the latter, having lost five matches in a row and not scored in a near-record 501 minutes. But regardless of which team shows up on Wednesday night, the Green-and-Gold are expecting to walk off the field with three points.
"It's a team we should beat," said Landon Donovan. "Here, there, it doesn't matter. It's a good way to put the road thing behind us to be honest, and we need to do it."
Despite the poor results that Los Angeles has been getting on the road, there still seems to be a certain air of confidence in the Galaxy camp. Whether or not all the bravado is just a smokescreen to hide a team still searching for its identity away from home remains to be seen. At this point it seems as though the Galaxy are starting feel a little pressure to produce, and soon.
"We have to represent what the Galaxy is, and that's one the best teams in the MLS," said head coach Steve Sampson. "When we step on the field against Salt Lake, that's exactly what we have to show. And if not, we'll find players who can."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.