CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano breaks down the Galaxy’s match against Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake. The match is the final regular season game between the two sides this year with LA and RSL splitting their two previous meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium.
GALAXY MUST CRACK THE REAL SALT LAKE DIAMOND
Real Salt Lake unveiled a new 4-3-3 formation in their 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo last week that emphasized fluid movement, but RSL are expected to return to their traditional “midfield diamond” against LA.
The diamond formation has long been a staple of the Jason Kreis-led side as captain Kyle Beckerman sits in front of Salt Lake’s back four and is charged with breaking up opposition attacks and then feeding Javier Morales, who leads the RSL attack from his position underneath the front two. This possession-oriented attack has long caused havoc in MLS, but traditionally, the Galaxy have been able to stand toe-to-toe with RSL’s vaunted midfield.
The task of breaking down the diamond will fall to LA’s midfield pair of Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho. Both players found themselves in physical battles during the two team’s earlier meetings and will likely be expected to do the same against Salt Lake. Juninho will be wise not to get too physical with cagey RSL, however, as the next yellow card will see him suspended against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
RECHARGED SABORIO THREATENS LA
One of the main reasons that Real Salt Lake currently sit on the summit of MLS has been the stellar play of forward Alvaro Saborío.
Since returning from international duty with Costa Rica at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Saborío has been unstoppable as he has scored an impressive five goals in the last three matches. Last week, Saborío continued his goal tear with a penalty kick finish against the Houston Dynamo, but appeared invigorated at the center of RSL’s 4-3-3 formation with Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata creating opportunities for him out wide.
With Saborio expected to use every inch of his six-foot frame to battle in the penalty area, expect the Galaxy to once again opt for a taller backline that is anchored by Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo. A week ago, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena opted for the pair against Blas Perez, who found the back of the net twice, though replays showed that each should have been flagged for offside.
CAN DONOVAN AND KEANE KEEP THE GOALS COMING?
The reunion of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan up top for the LA Galaxy created plenty of goals during their 3-3 draw against FC Dallas, but LA will need the same type of production against Real Salt Lake.
Against FC Dallas, Donovan tallied the fourth hat trick of his MLS career with Keane playing the facilitator role with a timely through-ball on the 31-year-old forward’s first goal. Now with Salt Lake looming, the two forwards will need to continue their offensive onslaught against an RSL side that has conceded just 26 goals this season—the second best mark in the Western Conference. However, where RSL has struggled this season has been with defending a transition-centric attack, which has proven to be LA’s strength when Donovan and Keane suit up together.
The inclusion of Keane will be a major boost for LA as Saturday’s match will be the first time that the forward has played against RSL in 2013 after missing the last two meetings due to injury and international commitments. The Irishman has had success against RSL in the past as he has tallied twice in four games against Jason Kreis’ squad in the past.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com