LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake | MLS Match Preview

STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
August 17, 2013 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #228)

The LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake renew their rivalry for a third time this season as they meet in a crucial Western Conference match on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. The Galaxy are currently tied for fifth place in the division and the final playoff berth, following their 3-3 draw with FC Dallas last weekend. Real are owners of the league’s best overall record after their 1-0 home win vs. Houston last weekend. The 2009 MLS Cup finalists have split their two meetings this season, both played in Utah.


REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. AR1 (bench): Paul Scott; AR2 (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Kevin Stott
MLS Career: 91 games; FC/gm: 24.3; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 15; pens: 13

SUSPENDED: RSL: Yordany Alvarez (through August 17)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: Juninho … RSL: Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Olmes Garcia, Chris Wingert
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas, Sean Franklin … RSL: Lovel Palmer, Yordany Alvarez

ALL-TIME (24 meetings): Galaxy 9 wins, 36 goals … Real 10 wins, 41 goals … Ties 5
AT LA (11 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins, 18 goals … Real 5 wins, 19 goals … Ties 1

2013 (MLS)
4/27: RSL 0, LA 2 (Magee 6; Rugg 13)
6/8: RSL 3, LA 1 (Stephenson 44; Garcia 84, 92+ -- Donovan 46+)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, with the first two games at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Galaxy took a 2-0 win on April 27 behind goals from Mike Magee and Charlie Rugg in the opening 13 minutes, then Olmes Garcia scored twice in a 3-0 Real victory June 8.
  • RSL’s victory in the last meeting was the first for a home team in the series since 2011, when the teams split their two encounters.
  • The Galaxy claimed a 3-1 victory over Real in the 2011 Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center. It’s also a rematch of MLS Cup 2009 in Seattle, dramatically won by Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena v RSL: P15 W5 L6 D4 … Jason Kreis vs. LA: P16 W7 L5 D4


  • RSL took the lead in the 44th minute when Khari Stephenson found the back of the net with a right-footed blast from outside the box that slipped past a screened Brian Rowe in the Galaxy goal.
  • Landon Donovan leveled terms just three minutes later. After he challenged RSL central defender Nat Borchers on a header at the top of the box, the ball ricocheted between the two before landing perfectly for Donovan, who used textbook technique to bang a dipping volley that beat RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to the far post.
  • Real's Olmes Garcia came on as a substitute in the 58th minute, and immediately made an impact with his speed and long runs. First, in the 84th minute, he headed home the game-winner, timing his run perfectly to beat his defender to a cross from playmaker Javier Morales.
  • He then sealed the match in second-half stoppage time, finishing off a breakaway after being loosed behind the Galaxy defense on another feed from Morales.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Khari Stephenson (Sebastian Velasquez 70) - Javier Morales - Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia 61), Joao Plata (Devon Sandoval 79).
  • LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Brian Rowe - Sean Franklin, Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza, Greg Cochrane - Michael Stephens (Hector Jimenez 84), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas - Gyasi Zardes - Jose Villarreal (Robbie Rogers 71), Landon Donovan.

The LA Galaxy returned to league play after a week layoff and ended their three-game road losing streak, gaining a 3-3 draw with FC Dallas on Sunday evening in Frisco. The Galaxy are in a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference with 34 points from 23 matches.


  • FC Dallas took the lead in the 15th minute. A corner kick found Andrew Jacobson at the far post, and heheaded it down in front of goal where center back Matt Hedges finished off with the final touch into the goal. It ended FCD's goalless spell at 465 minutes.
  • But the Galaxy pulled even in first-half stoppage time on what would turn out to be his night in Frisco. Robbie Keane collected the ball inside the center circle and sent a looping ball over the top for Landon Donovan. He headed the ball just over Dallas 'keeper Chris Seitz before tapping into an empty net.
  • Just three minutes after the halftime restart, FCD were back in front. Michel targeted the far post on a 25-yard free kick, and Blas Pérez was able to toe-poke the ball past LA goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini as the linesman's flag stayed down.
  • The Galaxy answered back in the 73rd minute when Donovan hit a bouncing ball on the half-volley from 19 yards out that Seitz just missed. Donovan secured his hat trick nine minutes later when he beat George John to a loose ball in the box and stroked the ball into the far corner to again give LA the lead.
  • But FCD and Pérez struck back in the 86th minute, as he scored the equalizer with a stunning volley off a failed clearance following another free kick by Michel.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made four changes to the team that suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan all came into the side, in place of Tommy Meyer, Hector Jimenez, Pablo Mastroeni and Jose Villarreal.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini - A.J. DeLaGarza (Hector Jimenez 71), Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant - Sean Franklin, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Michael Stephens 90), Gyasi Zardes (Pablo Mastroeni 90) - Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan.


  • The Galaxy took a point away from StubHub Center for the first time since May 15, a 4-1 win at Philadelphia Union. They had won one of their previous seven away matches – a 1-0 win against Chivas USA on June 23 in Carson.
  • “It’s a point on the road. We don’t have too many road games left so we’re still feeling good about where we’re at and where we’re going but we can’t keep giving up points,” said Landon Donovan. “Our goal is to get into the playoffs and if we get into the playoffs we know we have to be better than we were tonight.”
  • Donovan scored his fourth career hat trick, his first since Sept. 20, 2008, in the draw at FC Dallas. They were his first goals in league play since June 8; he did score five goals in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in between.
  • The Galaxy have allowed 16 goals after the 76th minute in league play, tied for most this season in MLS. They’ve suffered defeats three times on goals scored in stoppage time, also losing games on goals scored in the 84th and 87th minutes, and they’ve twice conceded equalizers in the final five minutes of normal time. They also conceded four goals in the final quarter-hour in the CONCACAF Champions League.
  • “We felt good about ourselves but we got lazy and gave up a real easy free kick and then they scored a goal. At the end of the day it was good that we fought back but when you have the lead with five minutes to go, you should win the game,” said Donovan.
  • Donovan now has 130 goals for his MLS career, four away from all-time leader Jeff Cunningham; his four hat tricks are one shy of equaling the all-time league record.
  • The Galaxy allowed two goals from free kicks, and have now allowed six total from free kicks, most this season in MLS. With the opening goal coming on a corner kick, they’ve allowed 10 goals from set-piece situations overall, also most in the league.
  • “It's been the story of the whole year, our set pieces, where we end up falling asleep and they end up getting a goal,” defender Omar Gonzalez said. “It's just a matter of putting everything you have into that, into that, 15- or 30-second play. It just has to be better. Our fight has to be better more so than the guy we're going up against, and [in this game] it just wasn't there.”
  • Said left back Todd Dunivant: “It's a huge part of the game that we have to fine-tune as the season wears down. They didn't get a lot in the run of play, but those three chances they scored on were all set pieces. That's what teams are going to do to us, and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen.”
  • Robbie Keane made his first league appearance after a two-match absence and recorded his ninth assist, now sitting in second place in the MLS assist leaders table behind Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux (12).


Real Salt Lake put an end to their winless streak after three matches, getting the game’s only goal for a victory against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL lead the Western Conference with 41 points from 24 games.


  • The game's lone goal came in the 37th minute that the scoreline changed. Houston's Adam Moffat undercut RSL's Olmes Garcia on an aerial challenge in the box and referee Jose Carlos Rivero immediately pointed to the spot. Alvaro Saborio stepped up and buried the penalty kick.
  • Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando was credited with three saves in keeping the clean sheet for the MLS overall leaders.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made five changes to the team that drew 2-2 with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo and Chris Wingert came into the back four for Lovel Palmer, Brandon McDonald and Abdoulie Mansally, and Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata came into the midfield for Luis Gil and Robbie Findley.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman - Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval 75), Javier Morales, Joao Plata (Luis Gil 62) - Alvaro Saborio.



  • Real won for the first time in league play since July 13, their three-game winless run before the victory vs. Houston matching their longest in MLS this season (also: March 9-23).
  • “Sometimes it’s important to win other ways because tonight – for me – was not great Real Salt Lake soccer,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “This was grinding soccer and we defended with our hearts and our souls. We defended dead balls really, really well, which was critical. But we just weren’t very good with the ball. So for me, every game kind of brings different things and I think we just continue on with the focus we need to improve.”
  • Kreis ran out a tactical shift from his usual preferred formation, aligning Joao Plata and Olmes Garcia as wide attackers with Álvaro Saborío as the spearhead.
  • “I woke up Thursday morning really with a quandary on my hand about how to get fresh players on the field, and how to get some guys I think have been really, really good a starting opportunity without changing the spine of the team, so to speak,” Kreis said. “It just dawned on me that, 'Let's try that 4-3-3 thing again.' And then watching Houston a little bit, seeing what they were bringing to the table, I thought it was the exact right opportunity.”
  • Said Kyle Beckerman: “I think it is good that we are able to adjust and we are able to play some different formations. To get another three points in that formation was great.”
  • Ned Grabavoy shifted into a deeper-lying central midfield role alongside Kyle Beckerman.
  • “Ned [Grabavoy] and Becks [Kyle Beckerman] do such a good job of keeping the ball, and it gives Javier [Morales] a little bit more freedom to move side to side and show up in dangerous spots. Having [Joao] Plata and [Olmes] Garcia out wide is just such a threat on both sides, just speed and precision with the ball,” defender Tony Beltran said. “We are able to get them in a lot of dangerous areas.”
  • Saborío scored his fifth goal in the last three games, converting a penalty kick for the goal vs. Houston. Saborío has nine goals in 11 league appearances this season – tied for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot standings – and three of those have come on penalty kicks.
  • Tony Beltran returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five league matches, four while with the U.S. national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup then the last through suspension.
  • “Beltran and [Chris] Wingert made some really critical tackles with balls played behind them. Wingert with clearing a ball that crossed right across our 6-yard box and Beltran – a couple times – making tackles when players got to the end line,” said Kreis. “All of them I thought were really, really good tonight. Again, we weren’t great with the ball, but the good news is defensively we were very good.”

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