The LA Galaxy’s four-game unbeaten run in MLS play ended on Saturday, as they fell 1-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In a game where both teams started lethargic and only really started to get active after the break, the home side scored early in the 2nd half and LA had no answer on the day, with the team struggling to break down a fairly compact RSL defense. But a late equalizer came off the board after VAR review and the Galaxy could not manage another dramatic finish in this particular game.
The only big change for this game was that Eriq Zavaleta got the start in central defense, his first in MLS for the Galaxy, with Sega Coulibaly unavailable. Kevin Cabral retained his spot in the XI, with last week’s matchwinner Dejan Joveljić on the bench again, and Efrain Alvarez started.
The 1st half of the game was sleepy, with RSL attempting more forays forward but both teams playing slow and not really proving incisive in attack. The Galaxy didn’t manage any shots on target in the first 45, while RSL managed just one, and little surprise, the opening half ended with the teams scoreless as they looked to regroup.
It was the home side that managed that, as they drew first blood in the 50th minute, with defender Marcelo Silva scoring on a header off a corner kick to give RSL the 1-0 lead.
What a way to start the second half! Marcelo Silva has #RSL ahead 1-0. pic.twitter.com/o6inu7vfBf— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 30, 2022
Just after the hour mark, the Galaxy made a triple switch, with Sacha Kljestan, Joveljić and Samuel Grandsir in for Douglas Costa, Cabral and Zavaleta, the latter of whom seemed to pick up a knock right before exiting the match.
Perhaps the best chance to that point in the game came in the 71st minute, as Alvarez had a decent look inside RSL’s box, and managed to fire a shot off, only for the shot to be deflected by RSL’s Andrew Brody, with the ball then clanging off the post before sailing away.
In the 77th minute, Joveljić set up Grandsir on a one-timer, the Serbian hitting a little backheel pass to set up the Frenchman, but RSL GK Zac MacMath smothered the shot before it reached the goal.
Nick DePuy entered the game for LA in the final minutes, replacing Mark Delgado as Greg Vanney opted for a second traditional center back to shore up the team late.
Joveljić then scored an equalizer in the 92nd minute, his second dramatic late goal in as many weeks. But it eventually went to VAR review, and it was taken off the board, with Derrick Williams judged to have been offside in the buildup. The game only continued a short time more before time was called, and the comeback attempt came up short.
No team can win every game in MLS, and losing a road game by a goal isn’t entirely unexpected. But this game once again exposed some of the issues for the Galaxy. They played way too slow until the final 30 minutes, and by that time, they were down a goal. The team seems to be feeling the absence of a playmaker like Victor Vazquez, who was out hurt for this game, and good chances were hard to come by. After the starting the season on fire, Chicharito was a non-factor in this game, and he depends on good service to do what he does. Douglas Costa and Kevin Cabral were also anonymous, concerning since they are Designated Players.
While the goal conceded sunk the result for the Galaxy, defensively they played well enough for a result. In my opinion, this game is largely on the attack sputtering, and hopefully they can find what they need to get back in gear again.
LA stay on the road for their next match, Sunday, May 8 at Austin FC. The Texas outfit have been good to start the season and it’s going to be another good test for the Galaxy, hopefully they can rise to the occasion.
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