The LA Galaxy take on league leaders Real Salt Lake on Saturday, needing a victory to keep the Supporter's Shield within reach. I sent over three questions to RSL Soapbox, to find out what they've done right this season:
1. Real Salt Lake is at the top again, even after the turnover of the back line in the past offseason. What's been the key for Salt Lake in stopping goals? What are the defensive strengths?
The key, I think, is that we've renewed our focus on attack. It's a slightly counterintuitive endeavor, and it's not one of those "They can't score if they don't have the ball" claims that I find slightly dubious. But it's our desire to win the ball back in better areas that has helped in this regard - rather than giving attackers a clean run to attack with, if we pick the ball up nearer the halfway point, we put ourselves in a safer situation in defense - and a better position to attack. So that's made a difference, but really, the key now has been finding a partner for Nat Borchers. Jamison Olave was a very important player for us, and to lose him made things difficult. Carlos Salcedo, a young Mexican international, has been the best option so far: He's confident, athletic, and generally makes the right decision - but most importantly, he doesn't hesitate. That's vital.
2. Saborio gets all the attention, but he's not a Golden Boot contender yet so there are others chipping in with goals. What are some of the unexpected ways Salt Lake have been scoring?
Considering he's scored 9 goals in 11 games, denying him of a Golden Boot contender spot could be a little premature - he's actually in a four-way tie for fifth place in the race, and who knows what could happen in the remaining games. Now, him winning the Boot is a long shot, but it's not like he's not scoring his share of goals. That said, one of the best things to have happened this season is that our entire side has started chipping in with goals. Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Olmes Garcia and Robbie Findley each have five goals. In 2012, Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio were the only two to have at least five goals for us. So really, the key has been involving the entirety of the side in the attack, and it's worked incredibly well.
3. Is there someone else that might have a big impact Saturday we haven't talked about yet?
Ned Grabavoy, though really, I mentioned him in the preceding paragraph. Not only has he been very important to us in our midfield, but he's chipped in with goals, too. His contributions have been indicative of a more attack-minded approach from the midfield, too. It's hard to complain about that. We might also look at Robbie Findley for an impact, who has steadily been improving this season but has yet to explode. His decision-making can sometimes be erratic, and he does need to step up in front of goal, but his ability to stretch play - particularly on the flank - is surely unsung.