LA Galaxy ready for “rematch” with Real Salt Lake

CARSON, Calif. – There definitely will be a sense of familiarity when the LA Galaxy face Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (1 p.m., NBC Sports Network).

The MLS powers, after all, met just over two weeks ago at StubHub Center, where Real Salt Lake earned a 1-0 victory in the regular-season opener for both clubs. The Galaxy are expecting another wild scene, something they’re already quite familiar with this season.

The Galaxy experienced one of the more hostile environments they’ve ever seen last Tuesday in Tijuana’s Estadio Caliente, where they were dumped from the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals by Liga MX’s Club Tijuana.

It certainly won’t be any easier on Saturday. Real Salt Lake has been off for a week since a 3-3 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes on March 15.

“It’s their home opener, they’re going to be excited, they’ve been resting all week and preparing for us and we have to expect it’s going to be the same way,” the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan said in comparing what he’s likely to see in Utah with what he saw in Mexico. “And if our mentality is better from the start we’re very capable of getting a result there.

“I think the guys are actually fired up, disappointed from Tuesday and we want to go put in a really good performance in Salt Lake.”

Galaxy coaches and players couldn’t help but comment on the unusual scheduling this season.

They’re not only about to play Real Salt Lake for the second time in two weeks, but they played Club Tijuana twice in a week, then they have a home-and-home series against the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 12 at StubHub Center and April 19 in Vancouver, B.C., and the regular season ends with back-to-back games against the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 19 and Oct. 25.

“We’ve tried to make it clear to the league that we thought this was not the way to do it,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “But they have their own minds. We’re going to be the only team in the league doing this on three occasions this year.

“I don’t think it’s good.”

In one respect, the schedule could make things a little easier, said Donovan, who gets another chance to break the league’s all-time record for goals scored he shares with Jeff Cunningham.

“In my opinion it helps,” he said. “You don’t have to do as much preparation. We know exactly what we’re getting from Salt Lake. That’s an easy scouting report. They’re a very good team and it’s going to be difficult, but we know exactly what to expect.”