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RSL vs. LA preview: Galaxy missing some stars in crucial clash

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Will RSL reign in a match in the top half of the Western Conference?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In a massive midweek game with huge playoff implications on the line, RSL will host the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, after taking a nearly two-week break due to the World Cup Qualifiers.

Where they stand

These teams are in a three-way tie—along with Colorado—for second place in the Western Conference, all sitting on 43 points. RSL (12-8-7, 43 points) holds the second place spot with the overall wins tiebreaker. Colorado still has one game in hand on both teams, although they did us a favor last weekend by losing 2-0 to New England.

LA (10-4-13, 43 points) sits in fourth place, losing on the overall wins tiebreaker to both RSL and Colorado. They’re coming off a 2-1 win at home over the Columbus Crew last weekend, which should bode well for RSL who hasn’t played a game since August 26th, with their win at home against the Rapids.

The Galaxy hit somewhat of a summer slump, and have only won one of their last five outings, going 1-1-3 which includes a 2-2 draw against the Chicago Fire.

Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, have been finding their form lately—especially at home—going 3-2-0 in their last five games, with all three of those wins coming at home. They’re currently on a 13-game unbeaten home streak, as they’re one of only four teams in the league to stay unbeaten at home this season.

Match history

This is the second and final meeting between the two sides this season. The last game was on April 23 when LA rolled to a 5-2 thumping of the visiting Salt Lake side, thanks to goals from Gyasi Zardes, Mike Magee, Emmanuel Boateng, Giovani dos Santos, and Steven Gerrard. Burrito Martinez and Javier Morales scored for Salt Lake, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the home side.

The Galaxy have a slight edge in the all-time series, with a 16-8-15 record, outscoring RSL 62-60 over all MLS competitions—including playoff meetings and an MLS Cup final in 2009.

Salt Lake is currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak against LA at home, with the last meeting at Rio Tinto coming on September 19 of last year when they cruised to a 3-0 win over the Galaxy.

Personnel

RSL is still missing Aaron Maund with a broken toe, who at this point might be missing the rest of the season, so we’ll expect to see Jamison Olave and Justen Glad as the starting center-back pairing, along with Chris Schuler on the bench. Good news as Sunny has seen some minutes with the Real Monarchs the last couple weeks, playing 148 minutes for the USL side between two games. We can hope to see him make an appearance this week for the first team again after being out with a facial injury since June.

Kyle Beckerman is out with the US Men’s National Team who played a World Cup qualifying game in Florida just the night before the RSL match-up. Although he didn’t see any playing time in the 4-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago, the chances of the Salt Lake captain starting against LA are pretty slim.

LA is a bit injury-riddled, missing Jelle Van Damme (MCL), Steven Gerrard (hamstring), and taking a huge blow in losing Gyasi Zardes for the season (broken foot). It’s also been reported that Robbie Keane has an undisclosed injury and is questionable for making the trip to Utah. They also recently lost Nigel de Jong in a deal that sent him to Turkey to play for Galatasaray. The Galaxy, although missing several key players throughout their attack and defense, will still be a dangerous opponent as they’ll have players like Baggio Husidic, Giovani dos Santos, and Sebastian Lletget to pick up the slack.

Both teams will be looking for three points to stay near the top of the table, and to try and close the gap between them and league-leaders FC Dallas, who sit in first place with 51 points.

RSL expected lineup: Rimando; Phillips, Olave, Glad, Beltran; Mulholland, Morales, Allen; Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez

LA expected lineup: Rowe; Cole, Steres, DeLaGarza, Rogers; Boateng, Lletget, Larentowicz, Mendiola; Magee, dos Santos