The Los Angeles Galaxy will host Real Salt Lake on Wednesday in the knockout rounds of the Major League Soccer playoffs. Los Angeles finished the regular season third in the Western Conference standings, hence the home field advantage of Salt Lake who just scraped into the playoffs at the expense of defending champs, Portland Timbers.
The match will see the renewal of hostilities between two teams who contested the 2009 MLS Cup final against one another. Colorado lifted the trophy on that occasion and over the years since, have shown a knack for pulling off upsets against the Galaxy.
Still LA have tended to dominate this rivalry in recent years and despite a lackluster 0-0 draw against Dallas last weekend, Galaxy are the more in-form team heading into Wednesday. RSL have found goals hard to come by in recent weeks, having only score twice in six matches since they last met LA, back in September, in what ended in a 3-3 draw.
But in truth, neither side heads into Wednesday’s clash looking like the kind of team that’s on the verge of storming through the playoffs on the way to the final. Bruce Arena’s Galaxy, which over the years has shown a knack for catching fire just in time for the playoffs, has been inconsistent and flat. Steven Gerrard hasn’t really worked out as a designated player, Robbie Keane looks to be running out of goals, and the return of Landon Donovan has generated excitement, but little in the way of actual production on the pitch.
Arena rested several key players against Dallas, which means leading attacker Giovani Dos Santos will be rested and ready for RSL, along with the team’s other designated players, Keane and Gerrard.
RSL meanwhile, in addition to their general lack of goal production, are dealing with an injury to Yura Movsisyan that could see the striker who’s scored nine goals this season limited to a bench role. Team leading scorer and assist-maker Joao Plata will be fit and ready for Wednesday’s clash as will midfielder Javier Morales.
Salt Lake manager Jeff Cassar will also be able to benefit from calling on the experience of veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
LA have had the better season overall and will be strong favorites on Wednesday, despite having lost the 2009 final to RSL and been subsequently eliminated from the playoffs in 2013 by the same team.
Playoff matches between these two tend to have decisive implications with the winner of the last four playoff encounters between the two having either gone on to make the final or win the cup.
Catch the LA Galaxy taking on Real Salt Lake in the knockout round of the MLS playoffs this Wednesday, October 26 at 10:30 p.m. EST on UniMas.