Tag Archive for LA Galaxy

7 matches left, RSL vs LA Galaxy may be the biggest

RSL’s form has been improving over the last few weeks and peaking at the right time is what it is all about in MLS.  With wins over FC Dallas, Colorado and Chicago at home last month we saw what we knew RSL was capable of, domination over weaker opponents, fighting hard against quality opponents and defeating rivals.

Wednesday night I believe RSL’s biggest match of the rest of the regular season will happen at Rio Tinto as they play host to the LA Galaxy. RSL and LA both have played 27 matches and both teams have 43 points from those matches, both would love to finish in the top 2 in the West and avoid a playoff first round match. LA won their first match in over a month this weekend with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew, to be fair it was a solid win but like RSL’s win over Chicago last month it was an expected win.

For RSL we may be getting LA at a time they are ripe for the picking with Van Damme, Gerrard on short term injuries and unlikely to play, Gyazi Zardes out for the season and Robbie Keane a question mark after he made his farewell from international duty with Ireland last week.  Still as RSL has seen almost any lineup that Bruce Arena puts out is dangerous and with weapons still like Lletget, dos Santos, Boateng and Mike Magee, this is a team that can score a lot of goals and a defense that is only giving up 1 per match.

I know I am one of the few fans who consider LA our greatest rivals, given our history with them in the playoff and the fact that despite the occasional blowout the two teams almost always put on a great show when facing each other.  LA holds a 1 match lead in regular season matches where they have 13 wins to RSL’s 12 with the two sides drawing against each other 7 times.  At home RSL has been dominant with a 6-3-6 record and a 26 to 19 goal advantage.  RSL will be looking to make amends for the early season 5-2 disaster back in April, a match in which RSL scored first but couldn’t close the door on their opponents. This year is a real anomaly with RSL having just 6 wins from the 12 matches in which they scored first, but also having 6 wins from the 14 matches in which they gave up the first goal.  Which RSL will we see on Wednesday night?

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The 2016 MLS season is here, what to expect

Today is the day, the 21st season of MLS action gets under way, in many ways 2016 is the calm after one storm and before an even bigger one, 2015 saw two new team jump into the fray of MLS (NYCFC and Orlando City SC) both came with some big names, Kaka, Frank Lampard (well eventually), David Villa, Mix Diskerud (is he still a big name?) and both struggled on the pitch to compete as neither made the playoffs in a rather weak Eastern Conference. It was also the start of the new TV deal for MLS, a new CBA, and lots and lots of new sponsorships for the league.  So with no new teams this year and a year where there simply haven’t been any of those huge signings like last year, don’t forget we also saw Steve Gerrard, Jermaine Jones, Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco join the league, but maybe those come this summer?

There are new stars but smaller names, like Ashley Cole, Lucas Ontivero, Yura Movsisyan, Carlos Gruezo and Shkelzen Gashi, we also the return of a player I really like is Simon Dawkins now a DP with San Jose and there are a lot of open DP spots around the league.  We saw some big name players change places, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, and Mike Magee to LA Galaxy, Marco Pappa and Jermaine Jones to Colorado, Marcelo Sarvas to DC United, Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Rosales to FC Dallas, Christian Miadana to Houston, Harry Shipp to Montreal, Brad Davis and Justin Mapp to Sporting KC, Will Johnson and Clint Irwin to Toronto FC and Blaz Perez to Vancouver.

All of this before we see 2 new teams likely join the league in 2017 and then 2 more in 2018, so even without those huge name signings it is a big year for the league as those new sponsors will want to see some ROI and the league needs to find a way to get the TV numbers moving up in a hurry.

So as a fan what should you expect?  Will it be another year with the big clubs missing out on MLS Cup (come on none of you picked Portland vs Columbus last year, don’t lie about it)? Well it is a crap shoot to try to pick who will win what at this point of the season, MLS has too many variables to be very accurate but I do have some thoughts

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Disappointment, despair, whatever it is both RSL fans and players feel it heading into Galaxy match

I have heard from several sources that the players are as upset and in many case more upset than the fans at the way the season has started for Real Salt Lake, and who can blame them it hasn’t been pretty.

9 points from 8 matches isn’t how RSL usually starts a season, but for me the points are less important than the eyeball test, in which RSL simply hasn’t looked very good for a full match, heck for a half, or if we are being brutally honest for a 15 minute stretch.  Yes there have been passing combos that have inspired, saves that have made the highlight reel, but overall this has been simply ugly. It has been a very, very long time since I remember seeing RSL rated just #15 in the USA Today Sagarin ratings.

In recent RSL history, this is our worst start at 2-2-4, last season we were 3-0-3 after 8, 3-3-2 in 2013 and 5-3-0 in 2012.  For me the question on my mind is what happens in the next 2 matches?  I believed and still do that the key to making the playoffs and hitting that gold standard of 15 wins/50 points is to win you home matches and to get results against teams from the East.  4 points from these next two matches would put us at 14 points the same as 2013, but lagging behind our 20 points of last season or 19 points after 10 matches in 2012.  A pair of wins would put us at 16 points from 10 matches and that wouldn’t be a bad place to be.

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Real Salt Lake look to end Landon Donovan’s career on Sunday

There is little doubt that Landon Donovan is the best player in MLS history, he probably is the best American soccer player to date, and while many fans are torn about him, cheering him in the red, white and blue of the USMNT, while booing him when he is in the various colors of the LA Galaxy, the reality is that love or hate him, everyone respects him.  On Sunday Real Salt Lake will look to end his MLS career, and given the history between these two teams over the years both in the regular season and post season it could go either way.  In regular season action RSL is 6-8-1 in matches played in LA, a 0-1 loss at StubHub Center in July was the balance for a 1-0 win by RSL there on opening weekend of the 2014 season.

All time these two teams are tied at 11-11-7, after the 0-0 draw last weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium.  These two are frequent opponents in the post season, in 2009 it was a PK shootout win for RSL at MLS Cup, in 2011 LA beat RSL in the Western Conference Finals on their way to a MLS Cup win, and last year it was RSL with 2-1 aggregate win in the Conference semifinals on their way to another MLS Cup appearance.  So Sunday will be two teams so very familiar with each other than winning or losing is often a matter of inches, shots off the framework or of the fingers of diving keepers are the norm, and it could likely come down to who can punish the other team’s mistakes.  RSL have a bit of momentum despite the draw at home, they finished the regular season with two wins and a draw, while the Galaxy finished it with a draw and two losses.  RSL gave up just a single goal in their 4 matches in October, while the Galaxy gave up 6, which was very unusual for the Galaxy who ended the regular season with an insane +32 goal differential as the league’s top scoring team with 69 goals scored, and tied for the league’s best defense with just 37 goals allowed.  The Galaxy were mighty good at home with a 12-1-4 record, their only loss was opening day to RSL, the amassed 44 goals at home while only giving up 14 goals for a +30 home goal differential.

So what will Real Salt Lake need to do in order to get past the Galaxy and on to the Western Conference Finals for the 5th time in the last seven years (08 ,09, 11, 13)?

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Real Salt Lake to host LA Galaxy in home opener – match preview

It seems almost amazing that Real Salt Lake already has two matches under their belts and now as spring has sprung they will start the home portion of their season by taking on the LA Galaxy again.  The first time around it was the Galaxy home opener and RSL was able to rain on their parade thanks to a Joao Plata goal and some amazing stops by Nick Rimando.  It was an exciting match as both side showed a little bit of rust but both showed that they can be very dangerous, it was lucky that Robbie Keane didn’t get a goal and unlucky that the officials got the call wrong on Luke Mulholland’s goal.  In the end it was a 1-0 win for RSL who notched their 5th straight opening day win, and now RSL will look to extend their undefeated home opening streak.  Oh I know that someone will think I am going to jinx them, but RSL has never lost a home opener, they may not have won all of them but never a loss.

For RSL it will be a real test as the injuries are piling up early on in the season, Findley, Sandoval, Velasquez, Morales, Allen, Maund, Schuler and Watson-Siriboe all have some type of injury issues they are dealing with. The upside is that newcomer Luke Mulholland has been a great surprise and Plata has started off the season as well as anyone in MLS. So with the home crowd behind them on a rare afternoon start, it should be a perfect chance to catch the two best teams in MLS over the last 5 seasons.

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Real Salt Lake finds victory in contentious match against Galaxy

If you watched the RSL victory over the LA Galaxy last fall in the 2nd leg of their playoff series, then little during Saturdays 1-0 win  in LA was probably surprising to you.  Just like the fall match, RSL was victimized by some strange calls including a clear goal being called back on a mystery call but instead of letting it get them down, they powered on and managed to still pick up the victory.

The highlight of the match, or highlights had to be the extraordinary effort in goal of Nick Rimando who made several key stops but none more important than the stoppage time PK stop of Robbie Keane to keep both the clean sheet but also to ensure the RSL victory. Several times mistakes forced Nick to clean up opportunities that the Galaxy had, some required his normal saves and others will likely get him nominated for save of the week. Nick in true RSL fashion was quick to point out that it was a collective team effort that secured the victory:

It’s tough to get a result, let alone a shutout here, and they came at us like we knew they would and I thought the defense played great, and by defense I mean the whole team.

Nick Rimando

Nick is right, work by everyone on both sides of ball is always a key to how RSL plays and we saw a lot of that, and while not every thing was perfect the mistakes were either quickly covered by a teammate or the Galaxy failed to capitalize.  It was good to hear that Nat Borchers mentioned that the team pushed for Aaron Maund to get the start and that confidence in him was rewarded by a solid effort against some of the most dangerous offensive players in MLS.

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Who is going to win the Supporters’ Shield? What the numbers say

So one thing is clear in all sports including MLS, there is no place like home.  In MLS the home team wins most of the matches, no team in the league this year has won more matches on the road than they have at home.  In fact only Toronto FC with 2 road wins and 2 home wins are even close, the top teams in both the East and West all get a result in a majority of their home matches.

 

  • Real Salt Lake – 8-2-3 at home, 5-6-3 on the road
  • Montreal – 9-1-3 at home, 3-6-2 on the road
  • Los Angeles – 8-1-2 at home, 4-8-2 on the road

and on and on, so while one could spend a lot of time trying to analysis in depth the remaining schedules of MLS teams, looking at who they play but to be brutally honest I think that simply looking at how teams have performed at home and on the road so far this year provides a great deal of insight on how they likely will perform for the remainder of the year.  Now it isn’t bullet proof, we have seen teams get hot down the stretch or go cold but averages are fairly good indicators.  So let’s take a look at the how things look like:

Real Salt Lake has average 2.08 points per match at home, and 1.28 points per match on the road thru their 27 matches played earning 45 points.  RSL has 4 remaining home matches so if trends stay the same they would earn 8 more points at home, they have 3 more matches on the road and should get 4 points on the road.  So with 45 points earned and a projected 12 points, RSL will likely end the season with 57 points.

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Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 2 – Match Preview

It was just over a month ago that RSL hosted the LA Galaxy and while the roster for LA featured some names you wouldn’t have expected, the most surprising fact of the night was that LA was able to get two goals in the first 15 minutes and then hold on to keep the 2-0 win.  It wasn’t surprising that LA would get a win in Salt Lake, they have done so before, including last years 3-2 come from behind win, it was however that RSL gave up early goals.  So far this season RSL has allowed 15 goals, just 5 in the first half of matches and only one other team has scored in the first 30 minutes against RSL.  I count that match fluke, if you look at the numbers it is late goals for and against is what you should expect from these two sides, RSL has scored 11 of their 21 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, LA has 10 of their 21 in the same time frame.  It is also when both sides have shown some weakness on defense, RSL has allowed 5 of their 15 goal allowed in the final 15 minutes of matches, but LA has allowed 9 of their 15 allowed in the final 15 minutes.  Yes, both sides have scored 21 and allowed 15 goals so far this season.

If it is consistency that RSL has found of late, 4-1-1 in their last 6 matches with multiple goals scored in 5 of them, then LA’s recent performances have to be described as erratic, 2-4-0 in their last 6 with some of the most puzzling scorelines of the season.  After a 3-1 loss at Vancouver, they rebound with a 4-1 win at Philly, then after thumping Seattle 4-0 at Home they get beat last weekend 5-0 by the New England Revolution.  Historically there are few head to head matchups that are a close as RSL vs LA, each side has 9 wins against the other with 5 draws and RSL holds a slight 38 to 35 edge in goals scored. In Utah RSL has a 4-3-4 record against LA with just a 19 to 17 goals scored advantage.

The Good:

Robbie Findley – It has been interesting listening to some RSL fans moan and complain about Robbie, not unexpected, but interesting as few of them knew the behind the scenes injury issues he has been dealing with.  Of course most of those folks have been quiet the last couple of matches with two goals and one assist in RSL’s last 3 matches.  As RSL head coach Jason Kreis said last week, it looks like Robbie is finally healthy and finding his form, and if that is the case and he can stay in form and healthy it is a very good thing for RSL. His ability to partner with Sabo, Plata or whoever else RSL puts up top with him is outstanding as Robbie now is a player who understands how to create chances for himself as well as his teammates.  I really believe the best is yet to come from Robbie Findley.

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LA Galaxy: Why the Hate?

One thing is clear to me as a fan of Real Salt Lake, as much as RSL fans hate the Colorado Rapids I think more hat the LA Galaxy.  It also seems that it isn’t just RSL fans that hate the Galaxy, it seems almost like a universal hatred of LA.

The haters will always hate, there is no question of that but one sometimes has to ask the question, do the haters have it right.  When it comes to the LA Galaxy the question most often revolves around how tightly do they have Major League Soccer wrapped around their little finger?  Or the perception that they have MLS wrapped around their little finger.

We can go back to the salary cap exemption for Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz, but that wouldn’t be fair as they weren’t the only team to benefit from such exceptions the Kansas City Wizards got the same type of exemption for Eddie Johnson.

A lot of people will point to the signing of David Beckham and the creation of the DP rule as something MLS did to show favor to the LA Galaxy, but again that isn’t exactly the case.  More than a year before Beckham was signed by LA, MLS was focused on a different player Ronaldo (the one from Brazil, not Portugal – it was 2005/06 after all) and different team, the move was to be part of the rebranding of the New York Red Bulls.  While that deal never finalized, one of the main points of discussion was that MLS should stop granting one off exceptions and create a rule for players outside of the normal salary restriction; it would become the DP rule.

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Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Match Preview

Since joining the league in 2005, there is no team that I think has provided more exciting moments for RSL fans than the LA Galaxy.  First came the addition of David Beckham, then the drama of the MLS Cup in Seattle, the 2011 Western Conference finals, and every match in between.  For 8 years it has been how do you top the last thing, last year RSL had taken it to the Galaxy in the first match of the season by beating them 3-1 at the Home Depot Center.  The second match saw RSL take off to an early 2-0 lead at Rio Tinto Stadium, but then mistakes allowed a hungry Landon Donovan and Mike Magee to get 3 unanswered goals to pull off the 3-2 upset.  RSL would get a bit of revenge late in the season as they came back from an early LA goal to get two Fabian Espindola goals and a sweep of the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  22 regular season meetings, 9 RSL wins, 8 LA Galaxy wins, and 5 draws,  38 goals for RSL and 33 for the Galaxy.  Two meetings in the playoffs, 2009 when RSL beat them on PK’s to lift the MLS Cup, and 2011 when LA came from behind to win the Western Conference final on their way to winning the MLS Cup.

Oh Bruce Arena may not want to call RSL a rival, why would he, why would anyone from LA want to add fuel to the fire?  Yes LA is the premier team in MLS, yes they have the top payroll in MLS (or will have when they add their 3rd DP to replace Beckham), yes they are featured almost weekly on national TV, beyond that they are just a great team.  While RSL feels slighted on about every front as the small market team running on a tight budget, fighting for everything they can get.  I just know that when the players from each side take the pitch, they know they are in for a battle, and they know that every play is a statement that will last all season.  Only 3 teams in the post shoot-out era of MLS have ever had 3 straight seasons where they earned 50 points or more, and on Saturday the two teams that have done that the last 3 seasons will face off for the first time this season.  I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a rivalry to me.

The Good:

Robbie Findley – Back to full fitness after the injury suffered on scoring his first goal of the season, could Robbie get revenge on his former team?  His unique combination of speed and skill has resulted in 2 goals in his previous matches against the Galaxy.  While Olmes Garcia has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks, I thought in his action late in the Chivas match that Robbie changed the match and allowed RSL to be much more dominating late in the match.  So either as a starter or off the bench, I think Robbie Findley could be one of the keys to a RSL victory on Saturday.

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