Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake
Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, April 23 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)
Match Odds: LA Galaxy 3/5 – Draw 3/1 – Real Salt Lake 9/2
LA Galaxy host high-flying Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in a key Western Conference clash between two sides expected to challenge high up the Supporters’ Shield standings after positive starts to 2016.
LA Galaxy have won three of their opening six games and come into this one off the back of an impressive 4-1 away win in Houston last week.
Bruce Arena will be delighted to have seen his side perform so well on the road, with the emphasis now back on remaining unbeaten at home.
The Galaxy are a seriously strong outfit on home soil and have only lost twice at home since the start of the 2015 season.
Real Salt Lake are in fine form themselves and are the only MLS side yet to suffer defeat in 2016 but face a tough task in keeping that record intact past Saturday’s game.
RSL have been impressive so far, winning their last two games 1-0, and have the best points-per-game record in MLS.
Jeff Cassar’s side have improved dramatically from last season and know that Saturday’s game offers another chance to show their quality to the rest of the league.
However, the loss of Joao Plata to injury could leave them lacking attacking quality in the final third, and Cassar will have to hope his squad depth has enough quality to cope without the club’s leading scorer.
These two sides met three times last year, with each team winning once, with the other game ending in a 0-0 draw. LA won the only home game 1-0 and have now beaten RSL in each of the last three home meetings between the clubs.
LA Galaxy will be without suspended midfielder Nigel De Jong once again here, as he serves the second of his three-game ban. Robbie Keane also remains out as he continues to recover from knee surgery, with Dan Kennedy still sidelined with a groin problem. Leonardo and Robbie Rogers are both doubts.
Real Salt Lake have been rocked by the news that Joao Plata will be out for around 10 days with a thigh injury picked up in training. He will join Emery Welshman, Boyd Okwuonu, Omar Holness and Phanuel Kavita on the sidelines, while Javier Morales and Sunday Stephens are both doubts.
LA Galaxy’s last five: L/W/D/D/W
Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/D/W/W/W
Key Stat: Real Salt Lake have not scored at StubHub Center in their last three visits and have now gone 280 minutes since scoring against their Western rivals.
Key Player: Giovani Dos Santos – LA Galaxy’s Mexican star played 90 minutes for the first time this season in last week’s 4-1 win in Houston. He was influential, netting twice, and will hope to build on that display against a strong RSL side here.
LA Galaxy 2-1 Real Salt Lake – LA Galaxy will look to build on last weekend’s impressive win in Houston. They are a real force at home and know taking three points from this tie will put them in a strong position in the Western Conference. Real Salt Lake have yet to lose a game, but the loss of Joao Plata could prove to be huge. Both will expect to score but LA should narrowly edge this one.