Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, March 18th – KO: 21:30 ET (1:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 6/5 – Draw 9/4 – LA Galaxy 11/5
Real Salt Lake welcome La Galaxy to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday as these two established Western Conference rivals look to get their season finally up and running with three points at the third attempt.
Through 180 minutes of football each, these two have only managed a single goal between them – and that came from the penalty spot in LA’s opening day loss to FC Dallas.
Real Salt Lake could be set for another average season in MLS as teams around the league have strengthened and they simply are a tad off the pace. Having said that, if players like Joao Plata can find form, they could upset a few teams.
RSL have struggled to compete since their last trip to the MLS Cup final in 2013, having only just scraped a playoff berth last term without a win in their final six regular season fixtures. Things haven’t started much better this year but there is a long time left to turn it around.
LA Galaxy are notoriously slow starters but this term there will be less optimism of a resurgence. The franchise lost three marquee players in the offseason with the exits of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Steven Gerrard and they haven’t looked like the same attacking side so far in 2017.
Two home losses in their opening games demonstrate the challenge that beseeches them this year. New manager Curt Onalfo has an uphill battle on his hands trying to replace Bruce Arena and if he fails to make the playoffs there will plenty of questions to answer come the end of the season.
Real Salt Lake are monitoring the fitness of six players for this one. Justen Glad, Chris Schuler, Aaron Maund and Joao Plata are all listed as questionable. Demar Phillips is a probable as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Jordan Allen is a doubt with a quadricep strain.
LA Galaxy are without three key players for the tough away trip as defenders Robbie Rogers and Ashley Cole are still out with ankle and calf injuries respectively. Gyasi Zardes is missing after knee surgery and Giovani Dos Santos is a doubt after leaving the Portland Timbers game with a hamstring strain.
Real Salt Lake’s Form: D/L
LA Galaxy’s Form: L/L
Key Stat: LA Galaxy scored eleven goals in three meeting with Real Salt Lake in 2016, an average of 3.6 per game.
Key Player: Sebastian Lletget – LA Galaxy midfielder Lletget is yet to impact a game in the way we know he can this year. If Giovani Dos Santos is unfit to play, a lot of Galaxy’s attacking potential will fall to on the shoulders of Lletget.
Real Salt Lake 1-1 LA Galaxy – The trip to Rio Tinto is historically a difficult one for any side and may prove to be too much of a challenge for the Galaxy to register a first win in 2017. Neither side has started the season in good form and it’s difficult to see either side winning here.