The 2014 home opener is here! It’ll have been 132 days since the last game at the RioT, not that I’m counting or anything. I really miss my second home, though. What better way to open up the season at home than against one of our most heated rivals. Real Salt Lake hosts the LA Galaxy this Saturday, March 22nd at 2pm mountain time. The game will broadcast on NBC Sports, but y’all should just show up to the game instead.
In fact, if you plan on going to this game, GO EARLY.There is going to be a lot going on. A lot of new stuff for this club and fan base. A march to the match and a gigantic tifo display is in store before what is sure to be a fun afternoon.
To put it simply:
- Wear red
- Come early
- Be loud.
As for the actual match, here are the big talking points:
LA is coming off a pretty emotionally damaging series with Tijuana in CONCACAF Champions League play. Their only league match was the season opener against us, which they lost. They followed that with a 1-0 win over Tijuana at home before having their hopes dashed in a 4-2 thrashing in Mexico. Because of this, it’s hard to determine what kind of LA team is going to show up in Sandy, Utah. Are they pissed and looking to avenge their struggles? Are they downtrodden and ripe for the taking? Either way, RSL cannot approach this game with a relaxed demeanor.
Where the Game Will be Won for RSL:
I feel like a broken record since we did this just two weeks ago, but it remains the same. RSL will win this game in the middle of the pitch. With Morales being a question mark for this one, this is a hard task for RSL to pull off. The supporting cast has to play well as LA will be looking to exploit a Javi-less RSL side. If the midfield is solid, RSL will get the full 3 points.
Where the Game Will be Won for LA:
His name is Robbie Keane. It’s as simple as that. If he shows up, RSL will have their work cut out for them. In the opening game at LA, Keane just wasn’t his usual clinical self. In Tijuana he bagged 2 goals but still didn’t look to be himself. Yeah, he scored twice and still didn’t look like Robbie Keane. That’s scary. With it sounding like Salcedo is going to play in this one, LA can win the game by getting the ball to Keane early and often.
Player to Watch for RSL: Nat Borchers
A lot of focus in our defense seems to always go to the other center back. It seems Borchers is frequently passed over by observers as to who was good and/or bad in situations. The truth of the matter is, though, that Nat runs the back line. He is the boss, the leader, the voice, the director. If he fails to do his job, others will as well. Yeah, Salcedo is going to be a big focus in this game, but if Borchers can give him proper support and direction it won’t be as bad as people are fearing. The beard has to play well for RSL, it’s a must.
Player to Watch for LA: Landon Donovan
A lot of focus, again, will be on Robbie Keane. He’s the guy that could turn this game entirely. That said, Donovan is the linchpin. If he is given time and space, he’ll hurt RSL. Like Keane, he is better than he showed in the first game we had. Like Keane, he can turn this game on his own. RSL has to make sure not to lose Donovan in whatever position he floats into.
Projected Starting XI for RSL: Diamond 4-4-2
Rimando, Wingert, Borchers, Salcedo, Beltran, Mulholland, Beckerman, Gil, Grabavoy, Plata, Saborio
Bench: Atinella, Mansally, Schuler, Balchan, Grossman, Stertzer, Garcia
It’s going to be rough for RSL if this game is close. The bench doesn’t offer much in terms of game changers given the injury bug that has bit the team. The first 15 minutes of this match will set the tone. If RSL can come out and find the net, it should be smooth sailing. If they can’t, we might be in for a rough afternoon (I hate afternoon games). I predict LA still has heavy legs and hearts from the Tijuana meltdown and RSL takes advantage to a 3-0 win.