This match will mark be game No. 28 between Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles Galaxy, and if the first 27 have taught us anything, it’s that goals will be scored aplenty in this playoff series. RSL has scored 45 goals in the all-time series, while LA has scored 44. LA does have a slight edge, having won 11 games while RSL has only won 10. History is just that though, history.
Los Angeles has been incredible at home this season with a record of 11 wins, four ties and two losses while scoring 32 goals and only conceding eight. While Los Angeles has a wonderful record at home, they have struggled on the road this season, which will make this home tie that much more important.
A big key for Los Angeles in this game will be to control the midfield and limit opportunities at goal for RSL. They will be strengthened in this aspect of the game by the return of Juninho, who missed the Galaxy’s regular season finale with Seattle Sounders FC due to yellow card accumulation. If Juninho can keep the area just outside of the 18-yard box clear and limit the scoring chances for Javier Morales, or whoever starts atop the RSL diamond midfield, then Los Angeles may been able to win the match.
Real Salt Lake has also played great at home, but unfortunately for them, this match is in Los Angeles. On the road, RSL has six wins, four ties and seven losses, which really is not a bad road record, but they have given up 25 goals away from Rio Tinto. The pressure will be on Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler and Chris Wingert to attempt to contain Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and the rest of the LA attack.
Real Salt Lake has been a model of consistency in the regular season; with their record this season, they have eclipsed both the 15-win and 50-point plateaus for the fourth consecutive season. Only one other club has accomplished this feat; that’s right, the Los Angeles Galaxy, who has also done this during the past four seasons.
While Salt Lake has been very good during the postseason, it has not always equaled success in the postseason. They have only made one MLS Cup appearance since 2008 and have made it past the conference semi-finals two other times. I’m not suggesting that RSL made a change at the top, but if they don’t make a deep run in the postseason this year, then maybe they need to shakeup the leadership.
Los Angeles Galaxy will host Real Salt Lake in Leg 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals at the StubHub Center on Sunday, Nov. 3. Kickoff is at 9:00 p.m. ET and the match can be seen nationally on ESPN.
First Leg Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Real Salt Lake 2
Los Angeles is good at home, and RSL is not very good on the road. Salt Lake will need to do whatever they can to keep this series close for the return leg next week.