Real Salt Lake takes on a struggling LA Galaxy tonight in Carson, California in one of the more grueling stretches of matches this season.
Coming off a big win over Jason Kreis's New York City FC team, RSL will hope for an even bigger win only days later — but it won't be an easy, seamless thing.
With LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane apparently in some doubt — he may not be ready for 90 minutes, with the Galaxy (like RSL) having to play again in short order — Real Salt Lake will want to take advantage of early chances as best they can. Nothing seals a positive match result like goals (a surprise, of course), and nothing helps a team solidify a lead like actually being in one.
It seems a little weird to use Keane, a striker of the highest quality in this league, as impetus to score — but if he doesn't prove an example of what happens when you do take the lead, we haven't been paying enough attention to his play. We may not have someone of his pedigree, but collectively, that shouldn't matter.
Continue meshing well as a team
For the first real time this season, Real Salt Lake really started clicking during their match against New York City FC. The quality of opponent notwithstanding, it represents a significant positive to have that sort of improvement on hand.
To continue that, RSL will have to replicate the same sort of performance against a significantly better team — but one without a significantly better record. They'll have to remain, as ever, ready and vigilant as they look o capitalize on any chances they're given.
Find vulnerable spots
One of the most effective parts of RSL's game last weekend was finding openings with smart movement — playing like that has to continue. Whether it's John Stertzer finding an opening on the left side and floating while the opposition is a little distracted swarming on a ball or winning a free kick in a good position for a Javier Morales free kick, there will be openings — finding them will be the impetus of those in attacking roles.
Injury and absence news
Real Salt Lake's injury concerns have finally been easing, but that doesn't mean too much changes for the team. Javier Morales is probably the sole beneficiary of injury recovery, as he's ready, but Joao Plata is not likely to start against LA Galaxy. Sebastian Jaime remains a question mark, too. Jordan Allen and Boyd Okwuonu will both be unavailable through international duty.
Predicted RSL lineup
Having played a match on Saturday, and with another one coming up on this Saturday, Real Salt Lake might look at a little rotation, especially with the next two on the road. It might be a great chance, though, to re-introduce Javier Morales to the starting lineup, who has said he's "100 percent" fit.
4-1-3-2: Rimando; Beltran, Olave, Vasquez, Mansally; Beckerman; Stertzer, Morales, Mulholland; Saborio, Sandoval