After a lethargic period of re-discovery and poor results (lost 4-1 to Montreal), RSL returned to their old winning ways Saturday night in their first match against former head coach Jason Kreis. RSL cruised to a 2-0 victory against ‘bottom of the barrel’ NYCFC. The victory wasn't just a welcomed relief from their current struggles, but a total team performance that we hadn't seen from this current rendition of RSL all season long… and now here comes the Galaxy.
The LA Galaxy are not far from similar… after what seemed like a comical spell of not winning games (4-0 to Orlando), giving up late goals, and a carousel of injuries, the boys are finally (sort of) back! or at least that is the hope after a dramatic finish at home Friday night against the Houston Dynamo that not only saw ‘mr. clutch’ Alan Gordon do what he does best and score in extra time, but also marked the triumphant return of our captain and reigning MLS MVP Robbie Keane.
The victory also brought about the end of a dry spell (insert California drought joke) stemming from all the way back to April 18th. Now LA is looking to build on those three points and keep the momentum going against an equally as hungry RSL.
Defeating our familiar foe won’t be easy, and I expect a low scoring, possession-heavy kind of game. The keys to defeating RSL haven’t changed in about as long as Beckerman’s hair has been long… but does this LA team have enough at the moment? let’s review:
- POSSESSION- the Galaxy have really struggled to keep the ball and create chances since the departure of Donovan and Sarvas. With Keane and possibly Villarreal back to form, and with a bit more MLS experience for Lletget, will the gaping hole in the middle finally be patched? Stopping Beckerman and the now very confident Stertzer will be key in controlling the midfield.
- DEFENSE- this has perhaps been the most consistent part of LA’s game all season long. But injuries have depleted the backline, and that isn't going to change any time soon. With Plata and Morales back from injuries, LA’s backline will need to stay organized and not give up any boneheaded mistakes.
- FINISHING- it is no secret that the strongest part of RSL’s game is, well, just one man…Nick Rimando. His effectiveness in stopping close range shots and potential last minute fumbles is so amazing that we call it getting Rimando’d. Our finishing has to be absolutely perfect to get past him, and though history is on our side when it comes to being able to find ways to score on him, the struggles of Zardes and Gordon (before the 90th minute) are a real cause for concern. If Keane is able to play the full 90 on Wednesday, which is still up in the air according to Bruce Arena, he might be able to provide the essential, in the box, passing that Zardes desperately needs.
The Galaxy take on RSL at home this Wednesday at 7:30 pm. The game will be locally broadcast on TWCSN-LA and online on MLS LIVE.