Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy: Galaxy Must Improve After Close Match in First Leg

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Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy: Galaxy Must Improve After Close Match in First Leg
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Galaxy were able to defeat Real Salt Lake 1-0 in the first leg of the 2013 MLS playoffs, but they must improve if they have hopes of winning their third-straight MLS Cup this season.

The Galaxy entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed after a second-place finish in the West behind the Portland Timber. They were just four points behind Portland, but they didn't play like it against Real Salt Lake.

Sean Franklin scored L.A.'s lone goal of the game in the early goings of the second half of the match, but there were a plethora of missed opportunities by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

Franklin's first goal in almost five months was enough to push the Galaxy into the second leg, but Donovan and Keane can't keep missing opportunities in the upcoming legs of the playoffs.

They had several opportunities up front to put the game out of reach, though each striker was unable to capitalize on easy opportunities. Credit needs to be given to Real Salt Lake's defense and goalkeeper Nick Rimando, but the fact remains that Donovan and Keane simply weren't effective.

Moving into the second leg, Donovan and Keane will need to work together on spacing in an effort to get open near the net. Both players don't need to look to score every time they touch the ball, but looking to set each other up on the attack will result in more goals scored.

Christian Hofer/Getty Images

There's a reason the Galaxy have won two straight MLS Cups.

Donovan and Keane make for arguably the top duo in the MLS—and certainly in the Cup playoffs—so it's really just a matter of time before they get going.

Their lack of effectiveness against Real Salt Lake is likely just a blip on the radar, but if it's not, then L.A. will have a tough time in the second leg.

Thankfully for the Galaxy, their defense looks in top form. They played exceptionally well in the first leg, limiting Real Salt Lake's attack and controlling the ball for a majority of the time. They'll certainly need that defense to carry over through the playoffs.

Without improvements offensively, the Galaxy will not record their third-straight MLS title. The New York Red Bulls and the Timbers are simply too strong to beat without having their top strikers at their best.

Getting past the second leg is obviously of the utmost importance at this point, but the Galaxy are one of the few teams that can get away with looking ahead.

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