MLS Preview: LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake, 4/27/13
LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake, Saturday 4/27/13 6:00 PM PDT Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy UT. Time Warner Cable Sports.
By B Von Wolfe
After going almost a month without a win or posting a shutout, the LA Galaxy may have pulled off the quintessential 180 last week and dominated a Sporting Kansas City team that was being billed as the Eastern Conference powerhouse to beat.
With overzealous claims aside and the talk of “statement games” in the rearview mirror, the Galaxy head to Sandy, Utah this Saturday to face a trimmed and reshaped Real Salt Lake team.
The High Road and Low Road
Currently sharing the second-place spot in the Western Conference Division, the Galaxy and RSL are teams that differ both in stature and philosophy.
While Jason Kreis and the RSL front office apply what is considered a reserved and moderate “the team is the star” approach to roster building, the LA Galaxy can be seen as the polar opposite in having players like Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan on the roster.
Call it small market versus big market, and it is up for debate which approach reigns supreme in terms of MLS success, but it’s worth pointing out that Kreis’ coaching career does include an MLS Cup and having reached a CONCACAF Champions League Final.
Is that a new look, or did you just get a haircut?
RSL managed to do a little off-season house cleaning with both Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave being traded to the New York Red Bulls and by sending Will Johnson to the Portland Timbers.
However, RSL managed to buy back former forward Robbie Findley from the Euro yard sale bin and have also retained the services of Alvaro Saborio.
While Espindola, Olave and Johnson could be considered key players, the true heart of the team lies with central midfield pairing Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman.
Players like Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia and even Luis Gil have filled in the gaps of the departed and RSL has continued being… well, RSL.
Neither the core nor the approach has changed, just some of the personnel.
Keeping the band together
It should be no surprise to anyone that once the “championship back line” of Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, AJ Delagarza and Todd Dunivant was re-instituted, things just seemed to go a lot smoother on the field last week.
Does the AJ and Omar center back pairing equal peanut butter jelly time? Was Leonardo’s red card in Dallas a blessing in disguise?
It’s hard to tell when it comes to roster decisions and Bruce Arena, but after not posting a shutout for almost a month before last Saturday, reinserting Leonardo into the back line for a crucial road game seems very unwise.
Keys and stuff
- Juninho & Marcelo Sarvas vs. Morales & Beckerman. Once again the Galaxy’s dynamic Brazilian duo are tasked with keeping in check one of MLS’ toughest central midfield pairings.
- Alvaro Saborio & take your pick…
- The RSL roster stable is deep with a combination of youth, speed, and experience.
- Expect Kreis to deploy a couple different looks up top, depending highly on what the Galaxy’s starting defensive unit looks like.
- Will the real Landon Donovan please stand up?
- Last week it was all about “The Return of The King,” but it remains to be seen if LD can parlay last week’s performance into a consistent run of form.
- Hey! Less yelling and more finishing please. The team as a whole has lacked in the finishing department, but no one more last week than Irish International Robbie Keane. The good ‘ol cartwheel and roll goal celebration is long overdue..