CARSON, Calif. – Since 2009, two teams have reigned supreme in the Western Conference—the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
Having appeared won two of the last three MLS Cups and two of the last three Supporters’ Shield trophies, matches between the two clubs have emerged as one of the top competitive rivalries in MLS. For the LA Galaxy, matches against RSL are always contentious, physical clashes that have a flair for the dramatic. Just how dramatic have LA and Salt Lake matches been? In the seven matches the 2009 MLS Cup—a match RSL won in penalties—four have been decided by one goal as the Galaxy have amassed four wins and three defeats in all competitions.
investigate this rivalry, I asked Galaxy fans, players (David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and Todd Dunivant) and head coach Bruce Arena about the view of RSL as LA’s main competitive rival.
BECKHAM: "I consider them to be a good team. I think that we've got quite a few rivals because we won the championship last year and people want to come here [to The Home Depot Center] and beat us. I do consider most teams our rivals, but Salt Lake are a good team, I think they play the game well and they have done that for a number of years. They've had quite a lot of success over the last few years so I think that they're a very good team."
DONOVAN: "I don't know, Seattle are a tough team, San Jose through the years. Salt Lake and us for the last four or five years have been two of the best teams in the league so it makes for good games all the time and I'm sure that this one will be the same."
BUDDLE: "I would consider them a rival especially because of the Final. We look forward to playing these games. I thought about the [2009 MLS Cup Final] a lot in the  offseason [before Buddle scored 17 goals en route to an appearance on the U.S. national team's squad for the 2010 World Cup ] I didn't want that [penalty miss that set up Robbie Russell's Cup winning penalty] to be the last memory of me in a Galaxy uniform. I've let that go now, but I'm still shooting for that championship so whomever is in my way has to get taken down."
DUNIVANT: “You can date it back to ’09, we didn't have anything going into that even or even through that season, but obviously the Cup final kind of changed that. They made it through the Eastern side of the bracket and then beat us in penalties so that’s the start of the rivalry right there. But it’s really been two of the better teams over the last four years, when you have that, you have a lot of meaningful games, a lot of things that matter and battling each other for the Supporters’ Shield for the last couple of years and they're two of the better teams so of course, it’s a rivalry.”
ARENA: "I think that every team in your conference is a rival. I think that any is much different. Obviously, the one that brings a lot of attention is the geographic [rivalry] because of Chivas here, but everything else in the conference is pretty much the same. They're all pretty competitive rivals."
@lagalaxyinsider For competitive reasons they are the only team I care about beating. Seattle next cause their fans bother me so much.— Chris Tucker (@ZeroCool138) October 4, 2012
@lagalaxyinsider Definitely true - they have had some of the best games over the last 3 years - hard fought, wins at each other's home, etc— Michael (@SaltyGunner) October 4, 2012