MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Wednesday, May 6th – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 17/10 – Draw: 11/5 – LA Galaxy: 13/8

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake host LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night, looking for some retribution towards the Galaxy, after they knocked them out of the playoffs last season en route to winning MLS Cup.

Both sides face two games this week, which will allow both the chance to get more points on the board before the weekend is over. On paper you would have to say LA Galaxy have the harder of the two fixtures with two tricky away ties as a trip to FC Dallas awaits on Sunday night. While Real Salt Lake head to Chicago to face the Fire on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake come into this one without a win in their last four, leaving them languishing in eighth in the Western Conference. It’s a stark contrast to last season when they went unbeaten through their first 13 games and were in second place.

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RSL have really struggled to get goals this season with just seven to their name. That’s rather concerning considering they were in the playoffs last season. But they can take some confidence from the fact that they have only lost once at home so far in that 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Royals need to get back to winning ways very quickly before the leading pack leave them behind in the chase for the playoffs. Jeff Cassar’s side have just two wins this season but they are only three points off the Galaxy in fourth, with a game in hand.

LA Galaxy are on a run of two consecutive draws after ties with New York Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids. One major concern is their away form so far this year as they have drawn two and lost two on the road.

That’s a key point as they now face three away games in a row. Picking up points away from home is vital if they are to get top spot in the Western Conference this season.

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Robbie Keane has only featured four times for the Galaxy this season, but has scored four goals, keeping up his impressive goal record in MLS with 85 in 88 games in regular season matches. But they will again be without their talisman as his groin strain is still leaving him on the sidelines.

Fellow striker Alan Gordon has come in and scored some important goals and will need to keep getting on the scoresheet in his absence, while emerging star Bradford Jamieson IV can look to continue impressing.

The two sides met in the Western Conference semifinals in the playoffs last season, in a game where LA Galaxy thumped Real Salt Lake 5-0 at StubHub Center, though RSL were the better side at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first-leg’s 0-0 draw.

Though a hat-trick from Landon Donovan, and goals from Robbie Keane and Marcelo Sarvas sent the Claret and Cobalt packing, and they will be desperate for revenge in this one.

Team News

Real Salt Lake will remain without Joao Plata (fractured metatarsal) and Chris Schuler (medial meniscus), while doubts remain over Sebastian Jaime (right tibia fracture) and Boyd Okwuonu (shoulder). RSL could have Nick Rimando back in goal and top scorer Javier Morales could also turn out after he took part in full training at the end of April.

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LA Galaxy have some injury problems of their own for this one, including Robbie Keane (groin), Jose Villarreal (hamstring) and goalkeeper Brian Perk, with the latter out for the rest of the season. Kenney Walker and Leonardo could return to the side but are unlikely to start. Gyasi Zardes is set to continue on the left with Jamieson and Gordon in attack.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/D/L/L/D

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: Real Salt Lake are unbeaten against LA Galaxy in their last four home meetings with their Western Conference rivals.

Key Player: Nick Rimando – The Real Salt Lake ‘keeper has the highest amount of clean sheets in MLS history with 115 to his name. Another clean sheet in this one is a real possibility and would help RSL add to their points tally.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-0 LA Galaxy – Not too many goals as both teams are missing key strikers. Galaxy haven’t won away this season and won’t break the RSL defence down in this one. Home win.

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LA Galaxy success is homegrown as Bradford Jamieson IV bursts onto MLS scene

By Sandy Beeson: Twitter – @Sandy_Beeson

Through a remarkable weekend of MLS action there were many performances to be lauded, with four different teams scoring four goals apiece, and several big results across the league. One performance that stood out was that of Bradford Jamieson IV – an 18-year-old attacker who is providing further proof that LA Galaxy‘s recent successes have been in some way down to a successful youth policy.

It took the homegrown signing just nine minutes to make his big impact on the game. Collecting the ball well outside the box, Jamieson took on Chris Duvall, cutting inside both the defender and the covering Dax McCarty before burying a composed low finish past Luis Robles for a goal that belied his first team inexperience in just his second MLS appearance.

VIDEO: Bradford Jamieson IV’s goal against New York Red Bulls (via LA Galaxy on YouTube):

With the ongoing absence of Robbie Keane, Jamieson has been thrust into first team action, earning a first start for the Galaxy in last week’s 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City at StubHub Center. The pacy forward made an instant impression, constantly looking to stretch the Sporting defence with 10 attempted dribbles – two more than rest of his teammates combined.

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What impressed in the game against New York was Jamieson’s willingness to work for the team. Against a more solid defensive unit there was less opportunity for Jamieson to take on his opponents but the youngster attempted seven tackles, more than any of Galaxy’s four defenders.

With the Red Bulls dominant in possession, LA required Jamieson to provide an outlet further up the pitch. He consistently held the ball up and released teammates in a disciplined performance that served as an exciting glimpse of the striker’s potential and provided further evidence of Galaxy’s productive academy.

Since signing Tristan Bowen on the first-ever MLS homegrown contract in 2008, LA Galaxy have been one of the more successful teams in the league for producing their own players. Gyasi Zardes last season scored 16 goals for Galaxy, the highest single-season tally for a homegrown signing, whilst Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto recently turned out for the US U-23s.

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Galaxy have a reputation for bringing in big-money signings, having bought the likes of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and now Steven Gerrard over recent years, but the emergence of Jamieson, Zardes and Villarreal shows that the team continue to lead the league in youth development too.

Do LA Galaxy have the best youth development policy in MLS?