Returning to Major League Soccer action after their Champions League excursion, Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy are in Sandy, Utah this afternoon, with their early season rematch with Western Conference champions Real Salt Lake giving the four-time champions a second crack at their first win of the season. Game time is 4:00 pm. ET, with the action available live on NBCSN or via NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Galaxy opened the season with a 1-0 loss to the team which ended last year’s three-peat pursuit, with Joao Plata giving new head coach Jeff Cassar’s team a victory in Carson, Calif. Since then, both teams have seen their fortunes turn, with LA eliminated in Champions League while Real Salt Lake was drawn last week in San Jose.
Both teams, however, have shown flashes of their title-contending selves. Ten days ago, LA was able to take a 1-0 win in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal with Club Tijuana, while Real Salt Lake took a 3-1 lead into halftime against a San Jose team that’s up to 20 straight wins at home. As a result, RSL sits at the top of PST’s MLS Power Rankings, while the Galaxy remain firmly entrenched in the list’s top ten.
For Los Angeles, the main objective will be shoring up a defense that was badly exploited mid-week in Mexico. The lack of foot speed between central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo was evident, while the line’s poor organization underscored one of the worst defensive performances of Arena’s time in Los Angeles. Against Álvaro Saborío and Plata, who has two goals in as many games, the Galaxy will need to be better, perhaps part of the reason their back four has been shaken up for today’s game.
As Real Salt Lake looks to pick apart that line, they’ll have a newly healthy Javier Morales at their disposal. The Argentine creator is set to return after sitting out last week with back problems. Chris Schuler makes his first appearance of the season, starting in central defense, while the scare Nick Rimando’s back suffering in San Jose turned out to be nothing serious. Though Robbie Findley and Sabestián Velasquez are still out, Real Salt Lake is near full strength for today’s home opener.
The game kicks off at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, with Robbie Earle, John Strong, and Ross Thaler set to bring you the action from Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil; Javier Morales; Joao Plata, Álvaro Saborío
Subs: Jeff Attinella, Carlos Salcedo, Kenny Mansally, Cole Grossman, John Stertzer, Luke Mulholland, Olmes Garcia
LA Galaxy: Brian Perk; James Riley, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Stefan Ishizaki, Juninho, Baggio Husidic; Landon Donovan; Robbie Keane, Rob Friend
Subs: Brian Rowe, Marcelo Sarvas, Samuel, Gyasi Zardes, Leonardo, Chandler Hoffman, Dan Gargan