CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake today at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (6 p.m., ESPN2) with a 1-0 advantage in the two-leg, aggregate goal Western Conference Semifinals.
While they are pleased to have the edge heading into the second leg, the two-time defending MLS Cup champions also can’t help but think what could have been had they not squandered several good scoring opportunities in Sunday’s opening game of the series.
“We should have maybe scored a few more, but that’s the way it goes,” Galaxy striker Robbie Keane said after training on Wednesday. “It doesn’t always work like that. If it did it would be an easy game.”
Added Landon Donovan, “Even though we created chances (Sunday) it’s going to be difficult to score goals.
“Tomorrow’s going to look the same.”
A Galaxy tie or victory would put LA into the Conference Championship against the winner of the other Semifinal Series between Portland and Seattle. If the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake are tied on aggregate at the end of regulation, there will be two 15-minute extra-time periods. If the game remains tied following extra time, the series will be decided by a penalty kick shootout.
Keane, who missed both regular-season meetings this season at Rio Tinto but did have three goals in a 4-2 win at StubHub Center on Aug. 17, said he’s been pleased with the club’s play of late. Particularly the defense, which has shutouts in four of the last five MLS games.
“Things are coming together,” Keane said. “We play the way we know we can play we’re dangerous for anybody.”
The Galaxy will be facing a familiar foe in Real Salt Lake, against whom they are 2-0-1 all-time in the postseason, including Sunday’s first leg victory. However, Thursday’s matchup will be the first time that the two sides will meet in a postseason game in the state of Utah.
With RSL playing in front of their rabid home following, Donovan said he expects nothing but the home side’s best effort Thursday.
“They showed at the end of the last game they’re willing to take some chances and go for it,” he said. “That’s why we have so much respect for them. They’re not a team that sits in and defends. They go for it.
“It should make for an interesting game. We have to be very good defensively, we know that. We’re not going there to defend for 90 minutes. We’re going there to play and try to put them under pressure, too.”
Galaxy central defender Omar Gonzalez understandably likes the Galaxy’s position.
“It’s 1-0 for us, we know we have to go in there and put in a solid effort,” Gonzalez said. “If we show up the right way with the right mentality and execute our game plan there’s a good chance of us getting out of there with a point or three.
“We’re good with the situation and want to get there and make it a great situation.”