For the second weekend in a row Real Salt Lake heads into the Home Depot Center and leave with a huge win. Last weekend it was a 4-0 win over Chivas USA, and on Saturday it was a hard fought 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy. Huge as RSL win the season series with the Galaxy and gain valuable points that will play a huge role in the playoffs.
RSL is officially out of the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield as San Jose picked up their 19th win of the season and lead RSL by 9 points with two matches left. Still every point matters as both playoff positioning as well as potential hosting rights for MLS Cup will likely be decided by points won in the last weeks of the season.
For RSL the man of the match was clearly Fabian Espindola who last weekend provided 3 assists and this weekend scored both of RSL’s goals, his 8th and 9th of the season. Of course there was also some huge saves from Nick Rimando and incredible defensive work from all the guys which kept the 20 shots from LA out of the net 19 times. RSL showed that while they may like to play a style where they dominate possession, they don’t need to do that in order to win. It was quality of shots that mattered for RSL who took just 12 but had the same number (6) that ended up on goal and one more than they did that found the back of the net.
For me as a RSL fan there is no better rivalry in Major League soccer, notice I didn’t say the biggest, or fiercest, but I said no better. Here is why, since RSL joined the league in 2005 the teams have played each other 21 times in regular season action, each side has 8 victories and there have been 5 draws. RSL has an edge in goals scored of 36 to 32, and there has never been a 0-0 draw between the two teams. Then add in the 2009 MLS Cup final, when RSL played the spoiler to pull off a PK shootout victory to lift the Cup, and you can also add last year’s Western Conference final where RSL scored first but LA answered back to win the match 3-1.
Even with the current coaches of the teams things are even, Bruce Arena is 4-4-4 against RSL and Jason Kreis is 5-4-4 against the LA Galaxy. LA is 12-3-1 against RSL when they score first, and RSL is 14-1-0 against LA when they score first. This year the teams find themselves locked in a battle for playoff position as both have punched their playoff tickets already this year, RSL has a slight edge with 52 points and a 16-11-4 record, while the Galaxy have 50 points with a 15-11-5 record. LA is at +12 in goal differential, while RSL is at +10 at this point of the season.
Don’t get me wrong there are huge differences between the teams; LA is in the 2nd largest city in the US, while RSL is in the smallest market in MLS. RSL has a payroll of 3.58 million dollars, while the Galaxy have a player that makes more than that by himself, and another who makes just 175K less than our entire roster, in total the Galaxy payroll is over 12 million dollars.
So what is going to happen when these two very different teams face off on Saturday? Read more