CARSON, Calif. – A year ago this week, the LA Galaxy saw their “Quest for Three” consecutive MLS Cups fall short against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. This Sunday, it will be Salt Lake traveling to StubHub Center with the chance to eliminate the Galaxy from the postseason and prevent them from being the “First to Five” MLS Cup titles.
Salt Lake simply need a draw in which goals are scored or a victory to end LA’s postseason dreams while the Galaxy need a win or a penalty kick shootout victory to advance.
A year ago, it was the Galaxy who needed a win or a draw in which goals were scored to go through after winning the first leg at StubHub Center 1-0 on a Sean Franklin screamer from distance. However, in the windy Utah conditions, the Galaxy found themselves overmatched as the Claret-and-Cobalt found goals from Sebastian Velasquez and Chris Schuler to defeat LA after 120 minutes.
Although the Galaxy find themselves in a similar situation against Salt Lake, Robbie Keane believes LA are stronger than the team that crashed out of the playoffs a year ago.
“We’re certainly in better position than last year in terms of the players that we have this year,” said Keane. “We have more experienced players and the players that we had last year are a year old and a year better. In terms of that, we’re good with the experience that we have.”
Added Robbie Rogers, “It does feel different. We went on the road last year and I think that there is a little more excitement when you’re in front of your home fans and while we were all up for it in Salt Lake, we know our record at home and what type of attractive soccer that we can play here. We just want to take them out of their comfort zone and show we can perform at home.”
While Keane and Rogers admitted that the team feels different than the one that failed to advance, Marcelo Sarvas disagreed, but noted that LA’s experience could tip the balance on Sunday.
“Every year is different and you can’t compare teams because they have different players who are in different moments,” said Sarvas. “But we have been through this before. We know how it is to play against Salt Lake…Now we’re at our home and we’re going to go for goals and go to win the game.”
Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane among those featured in four LA Galaxy hype videos for Real Salt Lake clash
LAGalaxy.com produced four hype videos for this Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal second leg clash with Real Salt Lake over the past week.
The videos which were produced by Galaxy videographer Albert Lanzillo feature Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Jaime Penedo, and Gyasi Zardes
Check them out below.
Robbie Keane: If we go down, we go down fighting
Gyasi Zardes: I've been waiting my whole life for this opportunity
Jaime Penedo: I can not disappoint the fans
Landon Donovan: It's now or never
The LA Galaxy are hoping to make a deep playoff run in their quest to be the "First to Five" and it's only appropriate that their new in-stadium playoff intro video features a bit of deep house music.
The intro which was created by LA Galaxy videographers Paolo Ferrari and Albert Lanzillo and will be shown at StubHub Center prior to each match can be seen above.
CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Keane is not a full fitness ahead of the LA Galaxy’s Western Conference Semifinal second leg, but the team’s captain refuses to allow a hamstring issue to hinder him heading into Sunday’s match against Real Salt Lake.
“It’s okay, it’s getting there,” said Keane. "It's not 100 percent but it's getting there."
The Galaxy will need Keane to be at his best as the forward has been unable to find the back of the net in his last two games as LA have gone winless in their last four matches. Although the Galaxy has struggled as of late, Keane says the Galaxy are ready to go.
“When our backs are up against the wall, we usually come up good. We know exactly what we have to do. We have to not concede and we have to score goals,” said Keane. “We know that we can do it because we have the players and the squad to do it. That’s why we’ve been one of the best teams over the last three years. We know how to perform in big situations and it doesn’t get any bigger than Sunday.”
The Irishman, who expects a cautious start from a Salt Lake side that can advance with a draw in which goals are scored, says that the Galaxy must simply get down to basics if they’re going to advance to the Conference Finals.
“I think that we just have to concentrate on what we’re good at. We’re good at counterattacking and getting at people,” said Keane. “We’re not going to change how we’ve been playing all season. We know that we’re good at that and we’re going to keep that.”
In the latest LA Galaxy Insider breakdown, I take a look at the three things that the Galaxy will need to do if they're to beat Real Salt Lake in their Western Conference Semifinal second leg.
Check it out above.
CARSON, Calif. --The LA Galaxy have their backs against the wall on Sunday.
Only a win -- or some luck from the penalty spot after a 120 minute draw -- will see the Galaxy through to the Western Conference Final for a fifth time in six years. In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's By the Numbers, we take a look at LA's record in elimination games.
Check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. -- First a little housekeeping message: if the LA Galaxy's Western Conference Semifinal second leg with Real Salt Lake ends in a draw in which goals are scored after 90 minutes, it will be RSL who advance past LA on the away goals tiebreaker.
However, even despite that new wrinkle to the MLS Cup Playoffs format, the Galaxy enter their clash with RSL with a simple objective: win the game. If the Galaxy can pull off a victory against Salt Lake on Sunday -- no matter the score -- it will be LA who advances to the Conference Final for the fifth time in six years.
Even though the Galaxy need simply to win the game, does the advantage of playing for a draw and an away goal benefit the visitors and force LA to go guns blazing from the start?
"Honestly, I think that this is new rule has been implemented and it’s been all that anyone talks about,” said Landon Donovan. “At the end of the day, if you win the games, it doesn’t matter. Our focus is to win the game and we don’t go into any game at home thinking that we’re going to draw.
“We go into games thinking that we’re going to win. Could it come down to it? Yeah, it could, but our focus is on winning the game.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena agreed, stating that it was more likely for the away goals rule to come into play in the series between FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC.
“Of course, if [an away goal] happens then that’s something that would concern us. If that happens then we’re going to have to get a goal really quick. It’s all part of it,” said Arena. “We’re going out to win the game. We’ve done that at home pretty well this year and we hope that it can continue.
"Our goal is to win the game. If we do that then you can keep all your math to yourself."
Ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal second leg against Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy players Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Dan Gargan previewed the match.
Check it out above.
The LA Galaxy will give away a team photo of the 2014 squad to the first 20,000 fans who attend Sunday's Western Conference Semifinals second leg match against Real Salt Lake.
In honor of that giveaway, LAGalaxy.com created a photo gallery of every team photo since the team's inaugural season in 1996.
Check out the vintage photos of players like Cobi Jones, David Beckham, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Mike Magee, Carlos Ruiz, and more below.
CARSON, Calif. –To advance from the Western Conference, the LA Galaxy understand that they must breach the man lovingly referred to by Real Salt Lake fans as the “Wall of Wasatch.”
Since his triumph over the Galaxy in the 2009 MLS Cup, Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando has proven himself to be one of the finest ‘keepers in all of MLS. And amid that rise, Rimando has consistently been a thorn in the Galaxy’s side as his stellar goalkeeping has proven to be Salt Lake’s primary weapon against LA’s dynamic attack.
"He's quick and sharp. He's very agile and there's a reason that he's in the national team. He's a good goalkeeper," said Galaxy striker Robbie Keane. "But hopefully, he's not too good on Sunday."
During the first leg, Rimando was rarely tested as the Galaxy forced him to make just one save in the scoreless draw. But if LA are to advance on Sunday, Landon Donovan says the Galaxy must challenge RImando early and often.
"We have to put him under pressure, we have to create chances, we have to hit the target," said Landon Donovan who has scored eight goals all-time against Rimando. "You have to keep making him make spectacular saves. He's not going to give us any goals, we know that. If we're going to get a goal then we have to earn it and we're prepared to do that."