It seems MLS regular season matches matter a little more each year. Every week features an important matchup, and this one is no different. The LA Galaxy need all three points to stay undefeated at home and keep pace with LAFC in the West standings. Real Salt Lake are just above the playoff line.
To get a better idea of Sunday’s opponent, we spoke with Lucas Muller of SB Nation’s RSL Soapbox.
LAG Confidential: Which RSL road team do you believe is going to show up, the one that flattened Cincinnati or got flattened by D.C. United?
RSL Soapbox: It looks as though the lessons of the DC United defeat have taken root. The team suffered a penalty and two red cards in the 5-0 blowout in the nation’s capital, but prior to that, had looked decent. They went on to get two red cards in their next two games. Since they’ve finished games with all eleven men, they’ve stayed competitive, including their 2-1 loss to LAFC and 1-0 loss to Seattle.
With the win over Cincinnati, the team got their first road win and their first back-to-back in. Head coach Mike Petke said the win in Cincinnati was significant because the team played the kind of soccer they’ve worked on all season.
The backline is improving as well. We’re seeing players functioning in their natural positions. The only goal RSL have conceded in their last two games was a beauty of o free kick from Nani in RSL’s 2-1 win over Orland. If the team can stop LA from scoring in the run of play, that will be very beneficial.
LAG Confidential: Is Mike Petke on the hot seat?
RSL Soapbox: He may have been. Four losses in a row is always cause for alarm, but given how those results happened (four red cards), he might have been ok even before their last two wins. He also has a few more years on his contract, and RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen isn’t a fan of paying out contracts.
LAG Confidential: Real Salt Lake doesn’t have the tallest center backs. Is there a plan to stop Zlatan?
RSL Soapbox: We’ll see Justen Glad, 6’ 1” and Nedum Onuoha, 6’, 2” start. While they may not be the tallest, they’re both strong players. Onuoha is a big guy, very muscular, with a rich career spent primarily at Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers.
After training this week, Glad said they have a plan to stop Zlatan, and that will likely include at least two players marking him. Real have stopped him from scoring in the past, specifically their 6-2 win over LA at Rio Tinto Stadium last September. It looks as though the Galaxy have improved since then, but so has the RSL backline. Playing in LA is never easy, but a backline of Toia, Glad, Onuoha, and Herrera should give them a decent shot at success.
Thanks to Lucas Muller for the time! Check out our answers at RSL Soapbox.