The Galaxy are aware that a victory or draw combined with the New England Revolution getting a draw or win against the Seattle Sounders will complete a successful MLS defense of the Supporters Shield.
The Los Angeles are coming off a 2-1 statement victory over Monarcas Morelia in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, “The players have to react to the situations. 1-1 wasn’t going to do us any good. [If] we lost 4-1, we lost 4-1,” he continued to tell MLSSoccer.com's Luis Bueno. “We had to win the game. We had to be very aggressive going forward.”
Speaking of 4-1, they are due for another statement victory against a Real Salt Lake outfit that delivered one of the most lopsided victories over the Galaxy in league play: 4-1.
“Given what happened in Morelia, we thought it was a little bit unjustified,” said team captain Landon Donovan. “The world has a crazy thing of working out when you do things the right way, so I’m proud of our guys for continuing to put in the effort and have the attitude that we could still get that goal. And it paid off.”
David Beckham and Robbie Keane were missing in action due to suspension and injury, respectively. They will be available on Saturday against RSL, but their match fitness will be a question mark.
Keane is suffering from tightness in his hamstring, while back spasms have prevented Beckham from building on his team-high assists.
As for Donovan, who had a great performance against Morelia, he continues to lead the Galaxy in goals with 12 on the year.
Real Salt Lake comes into the Home Depot Center with a load of egg on their face.
Already out of the Supporters' Shield picture, they are riding a two-game losing streak and were humiliated at home by the Chicago Fire to the tune of 3-0.
Furthermore, team captain Kyle Beckerman was ejected for headbutting the Fire's Daniel Paladini.
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said, “I’m really, really aggravated,” he continued to say to MLSSoccer.com's Randy Davis. “For me, [it was] a complete lack of discipline to give away a goal on a throw-in which we harp [on] again and again. To give a goal away that softly just to me is a complete lack of discipline by every player that’s in that area of the field.”
Before their slump, Real Salt Lake had a five-game win streak. That is all but ancient history, and with Los Angeles earning the momentum they need, it will be a challenge for them to replicate their success from earlier this year.
“I’m very worried,” Kries concluded. “I won’t be sleeping tonight because, for me, to take two results like this in a row at this time of year could be critical. The questions now are in front of the players, how will they react.”
Beckerman may not be at the match, but Real Salt Lake is still dangerous with their dual scoring threat of Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola. Saborio has 10 goals this year, while Espindola has nine this season.
Stopping Saborio and Espindola from creating space and getting looks will be a focal point of a Galaxy back line prone to communication breakdowns, as seen in their goal surrendered to Morelia's Rafael Marquez Lugo at the hour mark on Wednesday. Both players have great pace on their shots and can finish.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando and the back line of Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert will have to take advantage of a hampered Robbie Keane, who has two goals this season in only a few games of action for the Galaxy.
As for Beckham, he will have his share of deliveries, but his back issues could impact his accuracy.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who was scorched by the Fire at Rio Tinto, possesses a 1.03 goals against average and a 70 percent save percentage to go with 81 saves on the year.
His counterpart, Galaxy netminder Josh Saunders, has a 0.99 GAA, a 75 percent save percentage and 48 stops this season. Saunders had a solid effort on Saturday against the Columbus Crew and one of his saves was nominated for MLS Save of the Week.
For Los Angeles, they must play some desperate football. Now, this isn't the CONCACAF Champions League, and the stakes are a little bit lower. However, the Galaxy must dictate the pace, accelerate the tempo during stretches and maintain possession.
There's a good chance that even with a victory over Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy will not complete the Supporters Shield defense. They have a Tuesday contest with the New York Red Bulls that will most likely feature a reserve outfit.
However, you can be sure that the fans in blue and gold will be Revolution supporters on Saturday. The match between Seattle and New England will take place before the Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake, and once that result is known, Bruce Arena's men will know what they have to do.
Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Real Salt Lake 0
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Prime Ticket.