WCS: LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake (11/3)

Western Conference Semifinals: Leg 1

LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake
Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
StubHub Center
Kick-off: 6:00 p.m

 (lagalaxy.com)

The quest for the three-peat is officially on, as on Sunday the back-to-back MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy hosts Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Galaxy took two of the three regular season meetings between the two, but none of that matters come Sunday evening.

Having finished third in the Western Conference, the LA Galaxy gets to host RSL in the first leg of the series. While RSL gets to be at home for the decisive leg, the Galaxy has the opportunity to set the tone and take a lead heading into next week’s game at Rio Tinto, where they defeated RSL earlier this season.

Every player will have to step up in these crucial games, but there are a few who will have plenty of eyes focused on them. The first is Landon Donovan, who had 10 goals and 9 assists this season. Donovan equaled Jeff Cunningham’s 134 MLS goals this season, being one shy of holding the new record. Another key player is Jaime Penedo, who since his arrival, has helped the Galaxy earn results with a good amount of spectacular saves. Since Penedo joined the Galaxy the backline has improved as a result, going on 4-1-4 in the 9 games he’s played. Omar Gonzalez’s presence in the backline and his threat in set pieces will also be crucial in the post-season, as the Galaxy’s third Designated Player can be too much for opposing players to handle. Partnering up with him will be rookie Kofi Opare, who has stepped up in the recent games and has helped the Galaxy continue gaining momentum heading into the playoffs. Finally, Robbie Keane. There isn’t much that needs to be said about the Irishman, who has scored 16 goals and tallied 11 assists in 23 games played. Keane, who has a strong case to be a league MVP candidate, is one of the most dangerous attackers in MLS. His partnership with Landon Donovan is arguably the best in the entire league.

The Galaxy is on a good run heading into the playoffs, losing just one of seven games played. Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, is unbeaten in the previous four games. After their Open Cup final loss to DC United, RSL has two draws and a victory over Chivas USA, and that’s how they finished their season.

The rivalry between the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake has been growing each year, dating back to the 2009 MLS Cup. While the Galaxy had the advantage in regular season meetings, a whole new tournament begins this Sunday in Carson. Get to the tailgate area early for pre-game festivities, and go inside the stadium early to help out with the tifo!

THIS IS LA!

Regular season:

LA Galaxy:
53 points, 53 GF, 38 GA
15-11-8, 3rd in Western Conference
Home Record: 11-2-4
Away Record: 4-9-4

Real Salt Lake:
56 points, 57 GF, 41 GA
16-10-8, 2nd in Western Conference
Home Record: 10-3-4
Away Record: 6-7-4

@acosta19LA