A new-look lineup for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy took on Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rin Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. With Jason Kreis’s club fielding all hands on deck, the onus was on the visitors to weather the storm. They did. The young guns of the Galaxy took center stage, and a brilliant defensive performance in the second half gave LA a 2-0 statement victory over Real Salt Lake.
Here are six things we learned from Saturday night’s contest at Rio Tinto Stadium.
1. Mike Magee gets things going
Early on in the first half, Los Angeles had a chance to get a goal in the second minute but a Juninho volley was saved by Nick Rimando, the longtime netminder for Real Salt Lake. Not too long after, in the sixth minute, the home side was caught sleeping and Mike Magee scored on a corner from Juninho to make it 1-0 LA. The goal was Magee’s sixth of the season.
2. First half as wide-open as it gets
Opening goals like Magee’s break a match wide open. In the ninth minute, Brian Rowe was forced to make a save on Joao Plata on a giveaway. The ensuing corner was cleared thanks to rookie Charlie Rugg. In the 13th minute, Jack McBean and Hector Jimenez found Charlie Rugg to make it 2-0 LA. Jimenez nearly made it 3-0 in the 15th minute on a throw-in from Greg Cochrane. Luis Gil nearly got in on goal in the 17th minute to cut the margin in half, but it was collected by Rowe. Another opportunity in the same minute from Gil missed wide right. The 31st minute saw Tony Beltran test Rowe. Again, Beltran tested Rowe in the 35th minute, but that was collected.
Lovel Palmer earned a yellow card for a rash challenge on Jimenez in the 20th minute. Rugg almost got a brace in the 21st minute of play. In the 26th, an attempt from Kyle Beckerman was collected by Rowe. Real Salt Lake had a big set piece opportunity in the second minute of first half stoppage time, but that was eventually cleared by Cochrane after a scramble.
3. Real Salt Lake dominate first half stats
Despite being down two goals, Real Salt Lake dominated a number of key statistics, including possession (67.4 percent to 32.6 percent), duels won (18 to 16), duels won percentage (52 percent to 48 percent), shots on targets (four to two) and attempts on goal (eight to four).
4. Desperate times call for desperate measures
The onus for Real Salt Lake in the second half was to rally back and figure things out after being two goals down. The strategy: four up top. Mike Magee made a massive save on Mike Magee in the 51st minute. However, in the 53rd minute, McBean was in a collision with Nat Borchers on a breakaway for Magee and he went down due to injury, favoring what looks to be his collarbone. The 54th minute saw Juninho incur a yellow card. The following minute, he took a knock, to the disgust of Arena.
RSL continued to apply pressure and physical play. A tap for Javier Morales in the 59th minute landed on top of the netting. Rowe continued his solid night in goal with another save on Palmer in the 61st minute. Yordany Alvarez was brought on in the 62nd minute to add another dose of offensive punch. In the 68th minute, Morales’s free kick was cleared and Rimando had to come off well off his line to counter the transition. Rowe made another save in the 71st minute. Sebastian Velasquez was RSL’s trump card in the 73rd minute, and he came in to add some more offensive power.
5. Big saves from Brian Rowe help LA close shop
Juninho had a big opportunity to ice the game in the 77th minute, but his attempt was high and wide left. In the 79th minute, a Velasquez corner was headed away was cleared by Magee and the ensuing second corner was collected. A minute later, an attempt from Jimenez hit the right post. Omar Gonzalez was on notice in the 81st minute and forced a corner. An attempt from Velasquez missed wide left in the 82nd. That was the biggest opportunity missed for RSL up to that point.
Rowe made yet another big collection, this time on Devin Sandoval in the 86th minute. Alvarez’s next volley in the 90th minute was snatched up by Rowe. Substitute Rafael Garcia gave it the old LA try in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. A flurry of shot attempts from Real Salt Lake in the third minute of stoppage hit crossbar, Rowe, the left post and Rowe again before going out for a goal kick. Sandoval was guilty of failing to pull one back late on what should have been a route tap-in.
In the end, big saves from Rowe combined with a resilient back line secured a massive shutout victory for the Los Angeles Galaxy over Real Salt Lake.
6. Massive stat domination for RSL not enough
Despite dominate a number of match statistics, including attempts on goal (15 to eight), shots on target (seven to four), open play crosses (21 to 13), duels won (34 to 33), duels won percentage (50 percent to 49 percent), passing accuracy (82 percent to 63 percent) and possession (72.2 percent to 27.8 percent), Real Salt Lake com undone due to terrible finishing, a strong defensive performance in the second half from the Los Angeles Galaxy, and a solid showing from the rookies at Rio Tinto Stadium.