Real Salt Lake host both the LA Galaxy, the team the beat for the 2009 MLS Cup, and many of the players who were on RSL for that historic win. It should be an exciting night for a couple of reasons: big playoff implications for the western conference, the Galaxy are always an interesting match up for RSL, Javi is being honored and the ten year celebration of the 2009 MLS Cup win.
Yes, it’s absolutely the worst to say one of the things we’re watching in the match is Zlatan Ibrahimović but it’s also true. The Swedish striker has had incredible production over the last two years and he’s by far the most hyped player by the league and media outlets (I mean, not by this outlet though, we’re still team Sammy J).
Last time these two teams faced one another, there was a big clash on the field and off the field between Zlatan and Nedum Onuoha. It was a clear instance of Ibrahimović crossing several lines, but did not face any punishment, other than one yellow card from the ref, and the league did not take further action. Nedum rejected Zlatan’s apology after the LA Galaxy forward entered RSL’s locker room after the game.
Aside from past feuds, it’s safe to say that these two players, a center back and a forward, will be matched up once again. Watch to see how RSL’s backline deal’s with the Galaxy’s entire attack, but Zlatan has earned some focus as well.
Real’s 0-0 draw against the Revs over the weekend was a solid result. It’s clear that interim head coach Freddy Juarez is prioritizing home games against western conference opponents over road games in the east. It’s a smart move as it’s much more important to beat LAG, and thus jump them in the standings to get a home playoff position. Keep in mind that RSL played away on Saturday, host LA tonight, and host Houston on Sunday. It’s a busy week and beating teams in the west is far more important than beating teams in the east. Of the guys who started against the Revs, it’s likely only Herrera and Kreilach start tonight. That means the majority of the team should have a week and a half rest and that could give them the edge over LA. The Galaxy fielded a strong squad in their home game against the Impact on Saturday, and that short turn around will work in Real’s favor.
The ’09 reunion
It’s been ten years since Real Salt Lake defeated the LA Galaxy in Seattle for the 2009 MLS Cup. That Cup remains the one major piece of hardware RSL has in their trophy case. The club will honor Javier Morales by putting his name on the stadium, next to Jason Kreis’s name. Most of the players from that ’09 team will be at the stadium as a part of the celebration of the ‘09 MLS Cup win.
Below is a fantastic video RSL put together looking back on that win. It’s good to celebrate that win, but also worth asking why we haven’t seen other trophies since. But for now, let’s focus on that incredible playoff run and victory in 2009:
Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season Ending)
Beltran (knee; 3/15/19)
Besler (foot; 8/10/19)
Mulholland (hamstring; 8/22/19)
Martinez (hamstring; 9/18/19)