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LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs: Match Preview

MLS: LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

A pairing that will no doubt bring a small sigh of relief to Bruce Arena’s men, the LA Galaxy open their 2016 MLS Cup playoff campaign against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

The Galaxy couldn’t possibly have got a better opponent given how the teams finished during the regular season. Such is the way of things, Real Salt Lake went winless in their last seven league games and still qualified to the playoffs.

The Galaxy, though, were far from exceptional closing out their regular season, winning just once in their last five league games. Still, they secured a playoff spot with two weeks to spare before deciding to preserve their energy in their last game of the season.

Save for FC Dallas, the Galaxy were no less inconsistent than the rest of their MLS Cup playoff rivals, but it is worth mentioning, one of the primary problems throughout the season seemed to be injuries. Things are better now. The good news for the Galaxy and Arena is that only Gyasi Zardes is injured, and from this point on it is an exercise in keeping healthy to secure better chances in progressing through the playoffs.

That said, the Galaxy obviously have much more talent, but Real Salt Lake should be good enough to carve out a pair of presentable chances. At StubHub Center, the Galaxy tend to struggle to break down stubborn defenses and are often unable to make good on their supremacy, as evidenced by their eight draws at home this season.

However, the bottom line is Real Salt Lake look to be the most beatable of the teams in the Western Conference. There are no easy games in the postseason, but this is one game the Galaxy hope is the beginning of another late run into the playoffs.

Race to Seis starts here.

LAST MEETING

Real Salt Lake 3-3 LA Galaxy - September 8, 2016 - MLS

Real Salt Lake came from two goals down to earn a 3-3 draw at the death.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

LA Galaxy (4-2-3-1): Rowe; Rogers, DeLaGarza, Van Damme, Cole; Gerrard, Larentowicz; Boateng, dos Santos, Lletget; Keane

Real Salt Lake (4-3-3): Rimando; Beltran, Glad, Schuler, Phillips; Beckerman, Mulholland, Morales; Martinez, Movsisyan, Plata