Real Salt Lake-Galaxy Preview
While the Los Angeles Galaxy's winning streak came to a frustrating end, Real Salt Lake might be in the early stages of its own run in the right direction.
Though the Galaxy's five-game run has ended, they can extend their unbeaten stretch to seven games Sunday and remain undefeated at home while trying to keep Salt Lake from a third straight victory.
Los Angeles (6-1-1) continued to flex its defensive muscle Wednesday by keeping a clean sheet for the third time in four games against Minnesota United FC. The problem was that for only the second time in 2019, the Galaxy were blanked themselves in finishing with a scoreless road draw.
"I'm happy with the point, of course," coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto told the Galaxy's official website. "If we win Sunday again (against) Salt Lake, we will be very happy with this point. But, I feel like we didn't play very good and we didn't play like we could play. So, I need to know why, to work (on) that and play really good (versus) Salt Lake."
L.A. star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who failed to score for the first time this season, was more to the point.
"I didn't see the opponent as being good, so I see it more as we lost two points."
Ibrahimovic's comment won't sit will with Minnesota fans, but it should also reinforce to his teammates that the Galaxy will face all types of styles that will try to neutralize him and the club's other key offensive performers.
Los Angeles, though, should feel good about its chances of claiming a full three points this weekend at home, where it will try to open with six straight victories for the first time since 1996. The Galaxy topped Salt Lake 3-0 in the teams' most recent meeting in Southern California last season.
However, after being outscored 12-3 during a four-game losing streak, Salt lake (3-1-4) has beaten Orlando City and FC Cincinnati by a combined 5-1 margin over its last two matches. Albert Rusnak and Sam Johnson have combined to score four goals during that stretch.
Rusnak had a brace and Johnson added a goal in last Friday's 3-0 win at Cincinnati for the club's first road triumph of 2019. Salt Lake won back-to-back road contests only once in 2018.
"This team has gone through some rough patches, but when we click and we do the things that we work on and talk about and we put it together, we play really well," coach Mike Petke told Salt Lake's official website. "But, we have to have that more consistently."
Updated April 26, 2019