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Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy match preview

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Real Salt Lake’s on a bit of a slide right now, but there is no better team to change fortunes against than LA Galaxy, who have proven one of the more exciting match-ups against RSL over the years — and you need look no further than 2009 to see it in full effect.

What RSL needs to do to win

I mean, they need to score. I mentioned it last match, and I think I might have mentioned it before. I still have concerns about repeatability in the way we score goals, and while adding new bodies helps with goalscoring potential (Anderson Julio has a very respectable off-the-bench scoring record, after all), it doesn’t solve the underlying cause: We don’t have a whole lot of creativity on this team. Pablo Ruiz is probably the biggest exception there, but it’s difficult to play a creative role when you’re also a key cog defensively with a two-man midfield.

Injuries and Absences

Out

  • Zack Farnsworth (right ankle)
  • Bret Halsey (ankle)
  • Erik Holt (left foot)
  • Johan Kappelhof (left calf)
  • Jonathan Menendez (adductor)

As you’ll see below, those last three players are

Questionable

  • Damir Kreilach is still “questionable” with a back concern, which makes it quite likely he’ll miss out

With Real Monarchs

  • Gavin Beavers
  • Julio Benitez
  • Jeff Dewsnup
  • Axel Kei
  • Jude Wellings

Not yet eligible to play

Anderson Julio gets the nod in this category, given Elliot Fall’s interview on ESPN 700 announcing the addition — he mentioned that while he obviously can’t predict things like visa paperwork and the like, he’s anticipating 10 days for Julio’s playing eligibility.

Quote of the Match

“Joni Menendez is still on the mend, a few weeks away. Holt, still a few weeks away. Kappelhof, still a few weeks away. Damir is really the question mark. He’s been struggling with a bit of a calf (injury) in the early part, and now it’s his back. I think a lot of that has to do with not having a full preseason. He’s been our emotional leader the last two years since I’ve been here, and the impact he makes on the game and in the locker room is critical. Really looking forward to getting him back as soon as possible.”

Pablo Mastroeni, ESPN 700

Predicted Lineup and Formation

4-2-4
MacMath
Herrera, Glad, Silva, Brody
Ruiz, Caldwell
Chang, Cordova, Wood, Meram

Last ten matches

  • Wed., Sep 29, 2021: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Wed., Aug 4, 2021: Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake
  • Wed., Jul 21, 2021: Real Salt Lake 2-2 Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Sun., Nov 1, 2020: Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 Real Salt Lake
  • Wed., Sep 23, 2020: Real Salt Lake 2-0 Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Wed., Sep 25, 2019: Real Salt Lake 1-2 Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Sun., Apr 28, 2019: Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 Real Salt Lake
  • Sat., Sep 1, 2018: Real Salt Lake 6-2 Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Sat., Jun 9, 2018: Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 Real Salt Lake
  • Sat., Sep 30, 2017: Los Angeles Galaxy 1-1 Real Salt Lake

Mildly interesting statistics

  • This is a match-up that tends to see early goals, with five goals in the last 10 matches coming in the first 15 minutes.
  • LA Galaxy is unbeaten in four; RSL hasn’t won in five. It’s a set of results that makes this particularly interesting for both sides, and while it’s early enough that it’s not truly a must-win for either, it does paint a picture of momentum going against the home side right now.
  • This is the earliest in the year the two sides will have met since 2019, when the Galaxy hosted and won against RSL on April 28.
  • The home side generally wins this matchup over the last 10, with the Galaxy winning once on the road against RSL. Two draws round out the set of matches.
  • In 2022, LA has generally held possession over 50 percent, averaging 56 percent on the year. RSL, meanwhile, is sitting with just 42 percent possession. We could well be in for a lopsided match, especially with RSL holding a dismal 73 percent pass success. (Side note: I’m not saying you should really compare teams across leagues, but RSL’s passing percentage puts them near the very bottom of the “big five” European leagues, which is interesting. Philadelphia’s 67.6 percent passing success is actually lower than any team in that set.)



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Grindy win was just what Sounders needed

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Aside from one particularly attractive attacking sequence, there weren’t a whole lot of memorable or even particularly notable moments from the Seattle Sounders’ 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday. Well, aside from the fact that the Sounders won a midweek road game on short rest and got their first shutout of the MLS campaign, anyway.

But let’s focus on those big-picture takeaways first.

More than anything, this win was a bit of a stress test for the Sounders and it sure looks like they passed. It’s been well established by now that the Sounders spent most of the first two months of the season setting themselves up for what turned out to be a successful run at becoming the first MLS team to win Concacaf Champions League.

One of the main ways that manifested itself is in how Brian Schmetzer chose to rotate his lineups. This was the Sounders’ 11th match to be played on less than five days’ rest this season. In most of those, especially those that came on the road, Schmetzer has chosen to rotate at least part of his lineup. Against the Dynamo, however, he effectively ran back the same group that had beaten Minnesota United on the weekend.

“That group of players actually earned the right to play,” Schmetzer explained. “For that group to kick the rust off, they needed to go back out there again and show what they can do. That was the reason for keeping basically the same starting lineup.”

Perhaps the most notable player in that group was Jordan Morris, who the Sounders have been especially careful with due to his “sprinter” characteristics. But after looking at Morris’ physical metrics, Schmetzer opted to give him a shot.

Morris, like several of his teammates, definitely looked to be feeling the strain at points. There were a couple runs later in that match where it looked like he simply ran out of gas, and he was ultimately pulled in the 77th minute. But he also rewarded Schmetzer’s faith, playing the penultimate pass that led to Raúl Ruidíaz’s goal.

The whole goal sequence as a whole was easily the match’s highlight. It started with Xavier Arreaga jumping a passing lane in Houston’s end to create the turnover and featured 22 consecutive connected passes — nine of which were nominally attacking in nature and all but two of which were in the attacking half — with every outfield player getting at least one touch. The final part of the play saw Nicolas Lodeiro clip a ball to Morris, who then whipped a cross through the box to Alex Roldan on the opposite wing. Roldan then one-touched his pass back to Ruidíaz in front of goal, where he blasted it through a defender.

Although the Sounders never put together a sequence nearly that aesthetically pleasing in the match, it was a good reminder of just how good this team can be when they have something like their ideal XI on the pitch together.

More broadly, the performance was exactly what the Sounders needed to show they were capable of, grindy and sloppy as it seemed at times. Not only did the Sounders generate slightly better chances by Expected Goals (1.3-1.2), they also won all the effort metrics like tackles, duels, blocks and interceptions.

After a slow start to league play, the Sounders now find themselves just two points out of a playoff spot with at least two games in hand on virtually the entire league. The Sounders can potentially jump into a playoff spot if they beat the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.

“We sang Jingle Bells and we had a clean sheet,” Schmetzer said in the postgame press conference, striking a slightly different tune than he had in his on-field interview at halftime. “No one is going to care in September or October how or why we won the game.

“That is a happy locker room. I’m a happy coach. There are happy assistant coaches and I think the whole club should be pleased with the result. It’s a six-point swing against someone who was ahead of us, it puts us in great shape to end the week on a high. I’m not frustrated at all.”



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Team of the Week presented by Audi: Austin FC dominate lineup in Week 12

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Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Brad Stuver (ATX) – Alexander Callens (NYC), Damion Lowe (MIA), Ruben Gabrielsen (ATX) – Xherdan Shaqiri (CHI), Jamiro Monteiro (SJ), Hany Mukhtar (NSH), Sebastian Driussi (ATX) – Lucas Cavallini (VAN), Raul Ruidiaz (SEA), Daniel Salloi (SKC)

Bench: Drake Callender (MIA), Yeimar Gomez Andrade (SEA), Alex Muyl (NSH), Alfredo Morales (NYC), Jackson Yueill (SJ), Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Omir Fernandez (RBNY)





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Canada: 5 priorities the potential Nations League roster must address

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“He likes to play between the two center backs, he likes to lead the line, he can run behind the line and stretch the line, which I like,” Herdman said back in November. “I think that is a facet that can help complement other players and the way that we play. Often when we play with that No. 9 in Johnny [David] or Cyle [Larin], they want to be receiving in those pockets of space off the front. At times, we get left with a line that is not stretched. That space doesn’t really open up. I think Ike gives us that opportunity.”

Ugbo only played 53 minutes during the Octagonal across four substitute appearances. It’s clear, though, that he can be an impactful player, even off the bench, so giving him a start to build chemistry with either David or Larin would behoove everyone. If they find that connection on the pitch now, it’ll be a seamless change when Ugbo checks into a game at the World Cup.

More than anything, Ugbo deserves a shot given his strong finish to the season in his first proper run in a top-five European league. Herdman has constantly spoken about wanting his players in “Tier 1” leagues, now it’s time to reward those who transition to that environment without a hitch.





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