SANDY, Utah – Wednesday’s Knockout Round playoff matchup vs. the LA Galaxy has plenty to offer Real Salt Lake: some good memories, some ugly ones and a wide-eyed new experience for others.
Nine current RSL players dressed for the club’s last playoff game, a stunning 5-0 loss to the Galaxy in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2014.
It was 2-0 by halftime and 5-0 by the 70th minute – and it has probably been pushed to the back of most of their memories, even with a 5-2 loss earlier this season in LA which spurred their memory.
“That's a possibility any time you play,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “They have dangerous players that can do damage really quickly. We just have to stay focused and do better than we did last time.”
Most of the Galaxy's dangerous players from two years ago are still around. Landon Donovan, who bagged a hat trick in that game, has returned and any combination of Giovani dos Santos, Robbie Keane and Emmanuel Boateng can equal if not surpass the firepower of 2014.
RSL striker Yura Movsisyan has an entirely different recollection of his last playoff game, seven years ago. It was the 2009 MLS Cup and it also came against LA, as RSL won their only league championship, defeating the David Beckham-era Galaxy in a penalty-kick shootout at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
“I have great memories of winning the championship the last game,” Movsisyan said. “That was fun. That's something that every player wants to feel a lot and go through a lot.”
After winning MLS Cup, Movsisyan left the club for Europe, where he scored goals in bunches in the Danish Superliga and the Russian Premier League. He returned to RSL on loan at the start of this year and was acquired permanently earlier this month.
“I'm really excited about the opportunity and the chance to go after it again,” Movsisyan said.
Allen was injured in 2014 and Glad hadn’t broken into the lineup at that point. Both are proud to face their first playoff action on Wednesday. It’s also an opportunity to contribute in a big way to the club that has guided them from academy level to MLS.
“For us to be in the playoffs and me to have a contribution, that means a lot to me personally,” Allen said. “Any guy that comes through the academy – Justen Glad probably feels the same way – we have a lot of pride in representing RSL.
“We want to carry that in the playoffs and make our fans happy.”