Pregame Notes: Playoff seeding at stake in LA-RSL showdown
LA GALAXY vs REAL SALT LAKE
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
October 6, 2012 (WEEK 31, MLS Game #300)
6 p.m. PT (NBC SN; TSN2)
Their postseason places secure, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake now start to aim to finalize their seeding in the MLS Cup Playoffs when the clubs meet Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Real sit in second place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Galaxy, with three games remaining for both clubs – and fourth-place Seattle just a point back. The Galaxy are riding a seven-game undefeated run after a 1-1 draw at Colorado last weekend, while RSL has won back-to-back games, last a 4-0 home victory against Chivas USA.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 143 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 48; pens: 51
- LA GALAXY -- OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF Christian Wilhelmsson (L calf strain)
- REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); MF Ned Grabavoy (R quad strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: FW Alvaro Saborio (R shoulder sprain); DF Chris Wingert (turf toe); DF Tony Beltran (R knee soreness)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: A.J. DeLaGarza … RSL: Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: David Beckham, David Junior Lopes, Landon Donovan … RSL: Fabian Espindola, Will Johnson, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jonny Steele, Chris Wingert
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Galaxy 8 wins, 32 goals … Real 8 wins, 36 goals … Ties 5
- AT LA (11 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins, 17 goals … Real 4 wins, 17 goals … Ties 1
- 2012 (MLS): 3/10: LA 1, RSL 3 (Buddle 71 – own goal 73; Morales 80; Espindola 85), 6/20: RSL 2, LA 3 (Beckerman 9; Saborio 24 – Donovan 29, 68; Magee 50)
- The clubs are meeting for the third time this season. Javier Morales and Fabian Espíndola capped a three-goal outburst over the final 17 minutes for a 3-1 RSL victory in the season opener March 10, then the Galaxy got a pair of goals from Landon Donovan to return the favor June 20 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
- The win in the last meeting was the first for the Galaxy in Utah since a 3-2 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium on April 29, 2006.
- The Galaxy claimed a 3-1 victory over Real in the Western Conference Championship last year at The Home Depot Center. It’s also a rematch of MLS Cup 2009 in Seattle, dramatically won by Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes.
- Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. LA: P13 W5 L4 D4 … Bruce Arena vs. RSL: P12 W4 L4 D4
• Real had the lead after just nine minutes. Chris Wingert fed Fabián Espíndola on the right flank, and the Argentinean beat Todd Dunivant to the endline and sent it across the middle for Kyle Beckerman, who tapped home for the opener.
• Then in the 24th minute, Espíndola played creator again, sending another ball to the middle to Álvaro Saborío. Saborío got just a piece of the cross, sending it bouncing up in the air a couple of times before settling in the lower-left corner of the net.
• But five minutes later, the Galaxy started their climb back. RSL defender Tony Beltran, deep in his own third, tried to send a pass back to ‘keeper Nick Rimando six minutes later. Landon Donovan saw the pass coming and rushed to intercept the ball and deposited it after rounding Rimando.
• Real's giving mood continued just five minutes into the second half, with Jámison Olave giving the ball away to Donovan about 30 yards from goal. The Galaxy captain hit a perfect through-ball to Mike Magee, who took a touch and hit a brilliant, left-foot strike to the right corner that caromed off the inside of the post.
• The Galaxy completed the comeback in the 68th minute. Magee sent a ball from the left over the top toward Donovan, who beat an onrushing Rimando to ball, took one touch past the 'keeper and calmly curled it into the open net for the winner.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Luis Gil 64), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Kyle Beckerman - Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy (Paulo Junior 80), Jonny Steele (Javier Morales 60) - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.
• LA GALAXY (4-5-1): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, David Junior Lopes, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Bryan Jordan (Rafael Garcia 85), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas (Michael Stephens 63), David Beckham, Mike Magee (Chad Barrett 88) - Landon Donovan.
The LA Galaxy extended their unbeaten streak in league play to seven games, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Sunday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Galaxy are in third place in the Western Conference with 50 points from 31 games.
• The teams traded goals in the opening quarter-hour. In the 10th minute, after Robbie Keane’s shot was blocked by two Rapids defenders, the rebound fell to Marcelo Sarvas, who drilled a shot from the top of the 18-yard box into the top corner to give the Galaxy the lead.
WATCH: Match Preview
• But six minutes later the Rapids had their reply. After Hunter Freeman intercepted a Galaxy pass, the right back stormed up the field and sent a low cross into the penalty area for Jaime Castrillon, who cleanly finished for the equalizer.
• Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made one change to the team that cruised to a 4-2 victory against Toronto FC at The Home Depot Center. David Beckham came into the midfield for Christian Wilhelmsson.
• LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza (Tommy Meyer 34), Todd Dunivant - Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 87), Mike Magee (Edson Buddle 73) - Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan.
• While the Galaxy saw their season-long four-game winning streak come to an end, they did extend their league undefeated streak to seven games, having not lost since Aug. 5 (also now 10 games in all competitions).
• There’s a lot of season left. Obviously, the month of October is going to be important for us,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “We’re coming around. We’re slowly getting some guys back on the field and getting in better form, but obviously the next three league matches are important.”
• Marcelo Sarvas scored his second goal of the season, his first since the second game of the season (March 18 vs. D.C. United). He has now recorded a goal and two assists over the last three games.
• After missing back-to-back matches with an ankle sprain, David Beckham returned to central midfield and played 87 minutes.
• “Obviously, I haven't played for three-and-a-half weeks, and it's always tough coming back, especially when you come back at altitude,” Beckham said. “It was always going to be difficult for me, but it was good to get the minutes in, because we have a tough three games coming up before the playoffs, and it would be good to be fully fit for that.”
• Landon Donovan played the full 90 minutes for a second consecutive match in his return to fitness after missing three games to injury Aug. 15-Sept. 1.
• “We had to use the game to get David some fitness, some minutes, and the same with Landon coming back,” Arena said. “Those are important minutes for those players as we move forward.”
• There was an injury blow, however, as center back A.J. DeLaGarza suffered a knee injury that is expected to sideline him for up to a month.
• “I expected the worst but was hopeful for the best,” DeLaGarza said. “Glad I'm not missing a couple of months or I don't have to have surgery. That's a positive. Same time, it's end of the season, and you want to be in there with the guys at this time.”
• Rookie Tommy Meyer stepped into central defense in place of DeLaGarza, his first league appearance since May 5.
• “It's a shame,” Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders said. “Having A.J. going down is huge for us, but at the same time, Tommy came in and did a brilliant job. That's difficult in a game like this. To come off the bench cold and play as well has he did, that's great.”
• The departure of DeLaGarza after 34 minutes was the first time since they were reunited on Aug. 12 that the Galaxy first-choice backline of he, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant were not on the field together. The Galaxy were unbeaten over seven games with that back four while conceding just four goals.
• “Injuries are a part of sports,” Donovan said. “A.J. for years now has been as important a player as any. If he's out for any significant time, it will hurt. But Tommy did a really good job. He's arguably our most improved player this year from the beginning of the year until now, and if we have to depend on him, we'll depend on him.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake won for a second game on the trot, strolling to a 4-0 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Real are in second place in the Western Conference with 52 points from 31 games.
• Real Salt Lake took the lead after just eight minutes. From the right flank, Fabián Espíndola centered the ball to Javier Morales, who flicked a header on towards the far post. Saborío got in behind the Chivas defense and hammered home the finish.
• Four minutes later, Espíndola again created the chance, intercepting a pass from Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy just outside the penalty area. Espíndola ran towards the goal line and found Saborío alone in front of the net and while Saborío’s shot was not clean, it had more than enough pace to find the back of the net.
WATCH: RSL hammer Chivas USA
• Saborío put the game out of reach in the 65th minute, completing his hat trick in spectacular fashion. Kennedy scrambled to stop Will Johnson from close range but the ball rolled back to Saborío. With his back to the goal, Saborío turned and lifted a ball over Kennedy that hit the underside of the crossbar and went in for the goal.
• The rout was complete in the 81st minute when Paulo Jr. pounded home a shot from the right side of the penalty area.
• RSL head coach Jason Kreis made three changes to the team that defeated the Portland Timbers 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chris Schuler came into the back four for Jamison Olave, Luis Gil started in midfield for Ned Grabavoy, and Alvaro Saborio replaced Paulo Junior up top.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Kenny Mansally 46) - Luis Gil, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Javier Morales (Jonny Steele 83) - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio (Paulo Junior 74).
• After going four consecutive games without a victory and recording just three wins in a 12-game stretch from June 20-Aug. 24, Real have now won three of their last four games.
• “We knew this was a big game, not a must win – but a big game for us. At the end of the season you try to get as many points as you can and today that was the mentality going into the game,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “The guys capitalized on that. All week we talked about going forward an getting offensive threats and that’s exactly what we did.”
• Álvaro Sabório became the first MLS player this season to score two hat tricks when he hit for a triple in the win vs. Chivas USA. Sabório scored all three goals in a Real win vs. Portland on July 7.
• “Sabo's performance tonight was spectacular,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “But the first two goals were gifted to him. They were really, really easy for him to score. That comes from the work of Fabián Espíndola. I thought he was absolutely a monster for us tonight.”
• Sabório is now second in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 17 goals, five behind leader Chris Wondolowski of San Jose and one ahead of New York’s Kenny Cooper.
• “Very happy with the victory and performance of the team and the win on the road. We worked hard to create chances and score, the midfielders did their job to get chances … We have to think that every game is a playoff game and keep it like that,” said Sabório.
• Said Kyle Beckerman: “He's been a world-class goalscorer and forward for us since he's been here. We're really glad to have him.”
• Sabório was returning to the RSL lineup after a two-match absence, the first two matches he had missed all season.
• “Those two really complement each other well," said Beckerman. “One is that post-up, natural, tall, big forward, and Fabián is the dasher, slicer and he can really do some special things out there. He is really dangerous for us.”
• Espíndola recorded his first career three-assist game (and his second this season with multiple assists, the only two of his career) in the win.
• "Of course, if my team is going to win of preferring to pick up assists rather than score. “I think I have more assists than goals in my life,” Espíndola said. “It is the way I like to play. I want to touch the ball a lot. I don't care, sometimes if I play good, I don't care if I score. Other people care, you know, those who talk too much, but I don’t.”
• Javier Morales also contributed his eighth assist of the season, his second in as many matches.
• “When we have the ball for longer stretches of time and when we make good decisions quickly with the ball, it will often mean we will get the ball to somebody with time and space to run the ball forward,” said Kreis. “So I think it was a function of how well the rest of the group played, and also how well Fabián put himself in the right spaces to be able to collect the ball and run at players.”