Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Western Conference powers will meet on Sunday when the Los Angeles Galaxy welcome Real Salt Lake to the StubHub Center for the first leg of their semifinal series.
Los Angeles, the two-time defending champions, begin their quest for a three- peat following an up-and-down season which saw them drop a lot of points in the final minutes of games.
In their final regular season match on Oct. 27, Robbie Keane scored 12 minutes from time to save a point for the Galaxy in a 1-1 draw against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field.
But with the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Galaxy know they will be in for a tough test against Real Salt Lake.
"It's going to be a heck of a tough series for us," said defender Todd Dunivant. "This is a veteran team and they've got some new faces, but they've got enough veteran guys that have been around since their run started in 2009. They have a lot of experience and playoff savvy, so we're expecting them to not sit back by any means, but they know how to weather the storm."
"It's two games. If you don't do your best or you save something for the next game then you're out. You have to go with a lot of energy," said midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. "It's a situation where in Sunday that we go to press and score goals, but we must be smart because [RSL] is a good team with good forwards, midfield, but I think that we can make the result at home.
"It's easier to play against good players because it's the players that play because they like to have the ball and also, they give space and let you play," Sarvas continued. "I think that it's a beautiful matchup."
Real Salt Lake closed its regular season with a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA and now will turn the page toward the Galaxy knowing they need to stop Keane and Landon Donovan to have an opportunity to advance.
"The two of them work incredibly well together because it's not always one high and the other one underneath," RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. "They take turns on which forward is going to be toeing the line and which forward is going to be dropping into the gap. Combatting that is going to require a commitment by all our players to defend and to recognize where we get our success."
The two clubs played three times during the regular season with the Galaxy winning the season series 2-1-0, which included a 2-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in late April.
The sides also have a history of postseason meetings as RSL earned their lone MLS Cup title by beating the Galaxy on penalties in 2009 in Seattle before the Galaxy exorcised the demons of that defeat two years later, knocking off RSL 3-1 in the 2011 Western Conference Championship.