The LA Galaxy lost to Real Salt Lake in front of 27,000 that showed up at The Home Depot Center for the team's fifth sellout of the season. The loss puts the Galaxy in third place for now, with Seattle playing tomorrow with the chance to leapfrog LA. With their second road win over the Galaxy, RSL have put LA in a bad position.
Outside of the playoff seeding, the other worrisome part of this match was Landon Donovan having to leave around the eighty minute mark with an apparent leg injury. He laid on the pitch for some time, but was able to walk to the bench under his own power and didn't leave for the locker room til the final whistle blew. His status will have a large effect on the United States national team match coming up.
The Galaxy opened up scoring in the 17th minute, after an opening 15 minutes that saw the Galaxy pelting RSL with shots. Juninho had already hit the woodwork with a shot in the sixth minute when he whipped in a long cross to Robbie Keane who was inside the penalty area. Keane volleyed the cross past Nick Rimando for the Galaxy's opening goal.
Salt Lake came back fast and furious, scoring with their first two attempts on goal. Fabian Espindola scored both goals for RSL, turning around Omar Gonzalez on the first, then giving a slight nudge to a Javier Morales shot three minutes later. Alvaro Saborio picked up the assists on Espindola's 25 minute shot.
The Galaxy were hurt by their rookie defensive backs in the first half. While the first goal was scored on a veteran, the second goal saw Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul just stand still as Espindola and Morales hooked up. No one jumped up with Espindola, no one closed down Morales. Five minutes later, Meyer gave a Rockette kick on a 50/50 challenge that directly lead to a Chris Wingert shot that luckily was right at Josh Saunders.
Also worrisome was Omar Gonzalez' inability to keep up with Espindola on counters, a job that would have been A.J. DeLaGarza's under normal circumstances. In the second half, the Galaxy dropped Tommy Meyer further back, taking some of the pressure off Gonzalez on the counters.
Josh Saunders had to make some fantastic saves to keep the Galaxy in the match toward the end, as things started to get lose and come fast and furious. It took RSL three minutes to win the match, and the Galaxy simply didn't have a good enough look in the second half thanks to some great defense by Real Salt Lake.
LA will now have to go up to San Jose in two weeks, needing a victory to stay in the race for the top three spots. Without a top three finish, the Galaxy will have to play in the play-in game to earn a spot in the MLS Cup quarterfinals.