Galaxy, RSL clash at StubHub Center
Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Galaxy will aim to extend their unbeaten streak in league play to six matches on Saturday when the club welcomes Real Salt Lake to the StubHub Center.
The Galaxy have been in fine form over the past month-plus, but still find themselves in sixth place in the crowded Western Conference on 21 points, four behind Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the fifth and final playoff berth.
Los Angeles claimed a point at home last time out in a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timbers. After a scoreless first half, Marcelo Sarvas broke the deadlock in the 65th minute when Landon Donovan laid a pass off that allowed him to curl home a right-footed shot inside the far post.
However, the Timbers came back with two goals in quick succession, starting with a tally from Diego Valeri after Fanendo Adi's header was blocked.
Valeri then saw his attempt blocked a few minutes later, but Jorge Villafana was on hand to drive the ball into the bottom corner of the net to put his team in front with 20 minutes to play.
Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a fine stop on Donovan's free kick in the 76th, but Raushawn McKenzie redirected a cross into his own net four minutes from time to spoil a good second-half outing from the visitors.
"Hard game, I think we were sloppy throughout the game, the effort was not consistent over the 90 minutes, for us to have that kind of energy in the last 15 minutes to get an equalizer and not have that energy for the entire game is a little disappointing I think we lost our concentration a little bit, we did a real sloppy job in defending on a couple of crosses that cost us goals and to their credit they did a good job," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "I think the referee missed a few calls there; cards he didn't do a good job in that regard, but maybe had no impact on the game; we were inconsistent tonight. However the effort to get a point out of the game was terrific, the team did a real good job there."
Salt Lake, meanwhile, will be hoping for a second consecutive victory following a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution last week at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando both returned to the Salt Lake lineup after being away on international duty with the United States, and Beckerman tested Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 10th minute with a shot that forced a good save from the netminder.
RSL opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Chris Schuler was fouled by Darrius Barnes inside the penalty area on a corner kick and Javier Morales stepped forward to smack his shot home from 12 yards, handing the hosts the lead.
However, the advantage lasted just two minutes as Barnes nodded home a free kick from Chris Tierney to level the contest.
Joao Plata scored from the spot to make it 2-1 to RSL 25 minutes from time, and Morales nearly added a third goal with a free kick that curled just past the top corner of the net.
"I think it was the urgency of play, especially being at home. Obviously, we had Kyle [Beckerman] and Nick [Rimando] coming back, giving us that extra boost of confidence and calmness on the ball helped tremendously," RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said. "I think what I was really pleased with was the way we started the game and the way we finished it. We were really aggressive in trying to play in their end."
"There are a little bit of points between us right now, but they have a few games in hand," Cassar said of facing the Galaxy. "Any time you go head-to- head with a team that has a lot of confidence -- especially now in the second half of the season -- is going to be a six-point game. We're really excited. It���s a place where we do extremely well, especially against the Galaxy, and as long as we have eleven players on the field, I think we have a good shot."