Fresh off a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers, Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy continue their gauntlet of matches on Wednesday, June 20 against Jason Kries's Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Los Angeles Galaxy are currently 4-8-2 (14 points) and will need every point they can get to get back in the MLS Western Conference race.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM PST/9 PM EST and will be televised locally by KDOC and KWHY. Here are 10 bold predictions for Wednesday night's tilt.
Remember the last time Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake faced each other? Well, in that 3-1 victory, RSL were playing with an understrength side. This time, the tables are turned a little bit, with LA having a number of its players sidelined due to injury (although Mike Magee and Hector Jimenez return from suspension).
The depth of Los Angeles is going to be an important facet in determining the outcome of the match for the Galaxy.
Whether by the most unexpected in Todd Dunivant or the most unsurprising in Landon Donovan, the Los Angeles Galaxy will get on the score sheet first, just like they did in the last match. Speaking of Donovan, if the Galaxy captain can get his finishing stroke in order, he will be the one that opens up the scoring at Rio Tinto.
With Josh Saunders back in the lineup and ready to some more goalkeeping work, he will face a very, very game Real Salt Lake team that dismantled hapless Chivas USA 3-0 on the road. We can expect a much better effort in goal, while weathering the storm. I call for five saves minimum for Saunders.
Of course, because this is a home game for Real Salt Lake, and RSL are higher up in the Western standings, Los Angeles will be consigned to park the bus like the did in the last match with the Timbers.
A staunch defensive effort is needed for LA to pull off the upset win. While scoring in bunches also helps, it's defense that win championships, as the time-honored adage will tell you.
Still, Real Salt Lake will dominate the possession war with ease. I'm calling for 60-40 in favor of the Royals.
One thing I like about Fabian Espindola is that when he has space, he has speed to miss his marker and reduce the sequence to a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. I expect Espindola to score on Wednesday and keep Real Salt Lake in the game.
Espindola currently co-leads the team in goals with six.
Alvaro Saborio also has six goals this season for RSL, and I also expect him to get on the score sheet for the home team. Let me tell you: this is going to be a high-scoring affair, with plenty of offense on both sides. Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando and Saunders are going to have their work cut out for them.
We're going to have a high-scoring affair on Wednesday, with plenty of goals to go around. I'm looking for at least five goals combined in this contest. The last match between these two sides was close, with four goals scored at the Home Depot Center.
We are going to have a very physical encounter between two teams that will be doing work in the CONCACAF Champions League. That means plenty of fouls and cards. For this contest, I am setting the over/under for fouls at 20 and going with the over. As for cards, we should have under four yellow cards with no reds dealt out.
Real Salt Lake are going to come out to a fast start. The home field advantage will translate to a 2-1 halftime lead for RSL, with goals by Espindola and Saborio against a Donovan strike, as previously mentioned.
If Real Salt Lake can rally back on the road against LA, why not Los Angeles on the road against RSL? Home field advantage be damned! Goals from Donovan and Juninho are going to power Los Angeles to a statement victory. And boy, are the Galaxy in desperate need of a statement victory right now.
Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Real Salt Lake 2