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Tactical Preview: Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy

Can RSL continue their recent good run of form in MLS play and get three points on the road from the Galaxy?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles Galaxy Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Entering into their fifth game in the last 15 days, RSL is ready to travel to LA and take on the Galaxy. Having rested all of their starters during Wednesday’s US Open Cup game, they should be loose and ready to run come Saturday night. What might we see from each team as they come into their last game before the World Cup break? Let’s talk about it!

Real Salt Lake

As has been mentioned in other articles this week, the biggest question facing Mike Petke and Real Salt Lake is how to re-integrate Albert Rusnak back into the side, having recently returned from international duty with Slovakia. I would like to talk about several different possibilities that I think we could see from the team.

The first possibility (and least likely) is that Petke decides to stick with the current mojo and leave Albert on the bench. We would then see Sunny and Beckerman in the midfield, Saucedo and Savarino on the wings, and Kreilach playing the 10 underneath Corey Baird. I think this is extremely unlikely simply due to the fact that Rusnak is currently the best player on RSL’s roster. We lose a lot more than we gain by keeping him off of the pitch.

The next possibility is that we see Rusnak replace Corey Baird in the lineup, and see him play as a false 9. We have seen that Mike Petke’s system can be played well by a player playing a false 9, as that is typically how Luis Silva plays the role when he is in the side. Rusnak definitely has all the skill necessary to play as a false 9, and has a little more pace that Luis Silva does, which could bode well. This possibility would leave the midfield intact with how it has been during recent games, which has been working well for the Claret and Cobalt.

Another possibility is that we see Rusnak come back in as the number 10, and then see Kreilach replace Corey Baird and play as the 9. This would keep Kreilach’s ball and header winning ability high up the pitch, and provide the opportunity for him to win balls and play them to the two wingers making runs off of his position.

The last possibility that I want to talk about is that we see Kreilach stay at the number 10, and instead see Rusnak play as one of the wingers. As has been mentioned previously in other articles, Rusnak does mostly play on the wing for the Slovakian National Team, so it is a position he is familiar with and plays well even at the international level. My guess is that he would come in on the left wing, replacing Bofo Saucedo.

Regardless of what Mike Petke decides to do with the team tonight, it is definitely obvious that there are several players stepping up their game and making some of these decisions extremely difficult for him. As a fan, that is something I love to see from the team and I hope that it continues to show in a good run of form.

LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy come into this game having played 14 MLS games, the same number as Real Salt Lake. Thus far this season, they have compiled a record of 5-7-2, good for 17 points and 8th place in the Western Conference. They have scored 19 goals in their 14 matches, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara who have each scored 5 goals. The Galaxy have conceded 23 goals thus far this season.

The biggest talking point with LA this season has of course been the addition of Zlatan to the team, as well as exactly how he fits into the team. There is a lot of discussion that LA actually play better without Zlatan on the field, despite his contribution when he is on the field. With Giovanni and Jonathan Dos Santos both away on World Cup duty, it seems to me that it is much more likely that we see Zlatan start the game. His location on the field is something that the RSL defense is going to have to be hyper aware of at all times, as he is a master at picking apart defenses and creating goals out of nothing.

The Galaxy typically line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and I don’t expect to see anything different from them in this game. They tend to play down their right side, which means that Danny Acosta and whoever plays the left wing are going to have to be on point defensively throughout the night.

Expected Lineup

GK: Rimando

DF: Lennon, M. Silva, Glad, Acosta

MF: Beckerman, Sunny

MF: Savarino, Kreilach, Rusnak

ST: Baird

RSL’s keys to the match

  1. Find a way to get all of your best players on the pitch together. If Mike Petke can solve the lineup riddle and figure out the best way to get all of RSL’s highest performing players on the field together, they should have a great chance to continue their run of good form. How do you think we will line up tonight? Let us know in the comments!
  2. Beware the LA Galaxy attack. Even with the Dos Santos brothers away on World Cup duty, the Galaxy’s top two goalscorers are still around and will still need to be contained. How RSL reacts to Zlatan and Ola Kamara will likely be the difference between victory and defeat for the Claret and Cobalt.