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LA Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake Match Preview

LA takes on RSL this Wednesday in a Western Conference showdown between two perennial contenders

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

LA Galaxy will take to the road for their next match as they head into an undoubtedly hostile Rio Tinto to face a shadowy Real Salt Lake side (6:30 PM PT on MLS Live and Time-Warner Cable Sportsnet).

This early season match-up finds both clubs suffering a drop-off from their 2014 form, but the season is young and it's not yet clear who this year's front runners will be come playoff time. Both clubs have lost two matches and drawn four, while the Galaxy have one more win under their belts.

LA and RSL met five times in 2014, with LA taking two wins to RSL's one, with the most recent match-up resulting in a 5-0 Galaxy playoff win on the back of a Landon Donovan hat-trick.

Real Salt Lake's veteran midfield could provide some serious problems for a Galaxy midfield that has yet to find its feet, though RSL will most likely be without their strongest playmaker in Javier Morales, who is still dealing with headaches after suffering a concussion in their previous match. They'll still have the bite of Kyle Beckerman and the ability of Nick Rimando to singlehandedly change the outcome of a game.

LA's central midfield pairing of Raul Garcia and Mika Vayrynen were able to propel Los Angeles to over 63% of the game's possession while limiting the Rapids to completing just 59% of their passes, but it wasn't until the 75th minute that the Galaxy were able to find an equalizer by way of Alan Gordon's head.

LA will also have to improve their shot accuracy over that of their previous match. Against the Rapids, LA put only three of their nine shots on frame. Against a keeper like Rimando, that number is going to have to improve significantly. For RSL, it will be important for them to improve upon a tepid attacking performance that saw them toss up a goose egg in the shots on target category.

The injury bug has hit the Galaxy badly in recent weeks, but Wednesday's match could possibly merit the return of Robbie Keane (who LA has been a respectable 2-0-2 without). If not, Bruce Arena once again has some serious lineup choices to make, especially after the encouraging performance of rookie Ignacio Magnato.

Both clubs are coming off of matches in which they've had the upper hand in possession and passing accuracy but have failed to put their opposition away because of poor execution in and around the 18-yard box. A particularly interesting thing to see will be whether either team can discover their killer instinct and put the ball in the back of the net.