RSL 2 : 3 LA Galaxy
by Ethan Gomberg
Real Salt Lake tossed away a 2-0 lead to surrender all three points to a Landon Donovan inspired LA Galaxy.
The loss represents the second time a side from LA has left the Rio Tinto with all three points but sets up an intriguing weekend clash with San Jose Earthquakes who joined them on 30 points after their Rocky Mountain win.
After Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio had put RSL up 2-0 in the first seven minutes, the home side managed to throw away the points to Landon Donovan’s brace around Mike Magee’s leveler.
A sold out crowd and quite a bit of delay began a nightmare evening for Real Salt Lake.
Even though they were riding a winning streak and the top of the table, RSL was humbled by the Los Angeles Galaxy tonight, falling to the defending champs 3-2.
Landon Donovan said of RSL’s performance:
“They are a great team. For probably the last four or five years the road to the championship goes through them and vice versa for us. Its chippy but there is a lot of respect both ways. We play hard and after the game we shake hands.”
LA started off by applying pressure and using its packed midfield to disrupt the RSL diamond game. RSL countered by trying to go up the left side but it did not work so well for them. RSL scored early by switching to the right side and Fabian Espindola passed it in front of the goal. RSL was up 1-0 on a Kyle Beckerman goal.
LA played a little riskier after the goal, putting on more pressure and getting the ball more in their offensive third. Several dangerous LA free kicks gave David Beckham a chance to show his trademark stuff but the cross wasn’t worthy and failed to connect.
Alvaro Saborio and Espindola continued to give the Galaxy defense fits, but neither side was able to make much of their chances in the early going. For the Galaxy’s part, they gave chances to Beckham on free kicks, but again, near the net wasn’t in the net.
One of the flukiest moments in the game came at the 24th minute when a Saborio pass to Beckerman became a goal as keeper Josh Saunders misread the deflection, for a 2-0 score in favor of the home squad.
Landon Donovan wasn’t about to give up and a poor back pass from Tony Beltran to Nick Rimando turned into a one-on-one with the USMNT star. Donovan outmaneuvered Rimando and scored one for LA in the 29th minute. LA 1 RSL 2.
The half ended with RSL and LA sharing chances. Both teams went into the locker room probably prepared for some loud tones from their prospective coaches.
As the 2nd half began neither team made any substitutions.
Olave, a former MLS defender of the year, looked rather out of sorts all game and LA took advantage of it.
After the match, coach Jason Kreis confirmed that Olave was not only carrying an injury. but was ill:
“If Chris Schuler was healthy, he would have started. But he wasn’t and we are extremely thin on the back line”.
RSL definitely looked like a different team in the early 2nd half.
LA equaled their shots and chances from the first half easily in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd. However the right side of RSL’s attack made some nice chances but ultimately could not convert.
RSL ‘s crowd got back into it in the 60′ minute when fan favorite midfielder Javier Morales came into the game to spark the Utah side. But RSL continued it’s poor performance when again Donovan found space and outmaneuvered Rimando and scored putting up the visitors 3-2 with 20+ minutes to go.
In the end, despite a lot of work by Morales and Saborio, including helping Bryan Jordan off the pitch when he was wasting time, the clock beat the Utah side’s attempt to remedy their generosity.
After the match, Kreis had few words for the faithful:
“I think the way LA played tonight and their shape made it such that our forwards needed to take some risks. They were just attempting to counter attack against us, so I think we looked forward to the opportunity to take some risks. And we’re going for three points no matter what every game.”
LA coach Coach Bruce Arena speaking of Landon Donovan’s performance added:
“Fabulous. That’s the kind of player that Landon is, he is certainly capable of doing that. You know there were some great balls on some counter attacks; obviously the first goal was a mistake by Beltran and he had a great pass on Magee’s goal for the second goal and Magee gave him a great pass to push Landon behind for the third goal.
It was a great performance by Landon and by the whole team. We hung in there, we were a little unlucky to be behind 2-0 and that had all the makings of a disaster. To get that goal before halftime was big.”
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) – Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Luis Gil 64), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (c), Will Johnson, Jonny Steele (Morales 60), Ned Grabavoy (Paulo Junior 80); Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Yordany Alvarez, Emiliano Bonfigli, Terakazu Tanaka
LA Galaxy (4-5-1) – Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, David Junior Lopes, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Bryan Jordan (Rafael Garcia 85), David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas (Michael Stephens 63), Juninho, Mike Magee (Chard Barrett 88); Landon Donovan
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk (GK), Bryan Gaul, Jack McBean, Tommy Meyer
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Corey Parker
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Clear and 73 degrees