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Second-half rally helps RSL topple Galaxy

RSLBeatLA (Getty)


CARSON, Calif. — Three goals in the second half proved the difference as Real Salt Lake spoiled the Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS Cup banner unveiling, handing the Galaxy their first loss at home in more than a year.

Three unanswered  goals from RSL, including tallies from Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola, helped stun the Galaxy, who opened the scoring on an Edson Buddle strike. Defensive miscues doomed the Galaxy though, helping RSL post a 3-1 victory at Home Depot Center on Saturday night. RSL's victory snapped a Galaxy 25-game Home Depot Center unbeaten streak that stretched from the 2010 Western Conference Final against FC Dallas. 

Just three days after a hard fought CONCACAF Champions League in Toronto, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena regretted starting much of his first choice lineup — including Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan and David Beckham — in the home opener. 

"We were obviously a tired team tonight, I thought we still could have won this game and I think that this loss is on me. It's my fault, I think I should have used fresher bodies," Arena told reporters after the match. "We hit the wall and made mistakes that are attributed to fatigue. I think that the travel and two games this week added up to being a pretty tired team over the last 24 minutes and it cost us the game. I take full responsibility for that." 

The Galaxy made just two changes from the squad that went 90 minutes at the Rogers Centre opting for Marcelo Sarvas in midfielder over Juninho and rookie Tommy Meyer over Andrew Boyens in central defense. From the start, RSL controlled wide stretches of the match, despite not having Alvaro Saborio and Morales in the starting lineup due to injury issues.  

Each team peppered the opposition's net and traded scoring opportunities midway through the first half with Mike Magee and Paulo Junior both forcing saves from the opposing goalkeepers. Arguably the finest opportunity belonged to Sarvas' in the 44th minute as the Brazilian midfielder launched a shot from 35 yards out that bounced off the cross bar before bouncing down, but not over the line.

"It was a little strange, I thought maybe they had a little bit better of the ball but we had some great chances. I thought that we were deservatedly up a goal and then the next thing that I knew, they were up 3-1," said Donovan. "It was a little bit of a fluky game and we weren't great in certain parts, but I think that we probably could have realistically scored six or seven tonight." 

As the second half began, the Galaxy began to control the match forcing RSL head coach Jason Kreis to bring on Morales and Saborio into the match. It would be the Galaxy that struck first when Beckham launched a pinpoint cross from the right side to the head of Buddle, whose shot went past Nick Rimando.

Holding 1-0 leads had been a source of pride for the Galaxy in 2011, but just two minutes after Buddle's strike, a failed clearance by Sean Franklin on a Sebastian Velasquez cross resulted in an own goal. In the 80th minute, Morales gave RSL the lead after confusion in the box allowed the ball to the midfielder, who poked past a diving Josh Saunders.  Los Angeles attempted to find the equalizer, but yet another defensive lapse in the 85th allowed Fabian Espindola to tally a third for RSL. 

"I don't think that anyone is going to doubt the quality of a Morales or a Saborio. Even right now the only doubts about them are their fitness, but I'm not going to take anything away from the guys that were ou there for the sixty minutes," said Kreis. "I really felt that we were the team that was controlling the tempo of the match. I know that LA had some fantastic chances to score…but really I felt that we were the team that was controlling the tempo so I'm very, very pleased with everyone's contributions." 

RSL now return to Rio Tinto Stadium for their home opener against the New York Red Bulls on March 17th. Meanwhile, the Galaxy return to action Wednesday when they face Toronto FC at Home Depot Center in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series. The Galaxy tied Toronto, 2-2, last Wednesday in Toronto.

After a difficult loss at home and their decisive Champions League fixture looming, the Galaxy hope to put their result against RSL behind them

"We got a game on Wednesday, so we'll take tomorrow off and get rested and be ready to play," said defender AJ DeLaGarza. "This is one of those [games] that you don't want to watch again. "


  1. I must say, switching back and forth between the LAG/RSL game and the NE Revs/SJ game, there is a noticeable drop in quality in the Revs SJ match to the LA/RSL. Both defenses are better but boring midfield and attack. Gals unlucky with the woodwork a couple of times.

  2. … not to mention Saborio and Borchers. If our bench continues to provide quality options, this team is looking pretty stacked. Don’t know how the FO does it.

  3. The fact that LA lost a home game first game out after not allowing any last year; and the rate at which they are allowing goals, should be cause for Galaxy fan concern, tired team or not. They appear vulnerable and it’s not like they can expect back Gonzo in a few weeks like he sprained an ankle.

    Now, you can still be a relatively competitive team playing like the NYRB now or the Crew of the McBride era — Eredivisie-style high scoring soccer both ways — but this is not going to be the leakproof LA defense of most of the Arena era.

    If RSL can bring Morales off the bench and get production while still building him up slowly that’s good for them.

    Props to Velasquez.

  4. I agree with what you said except for describing RSL as “full of unknowns”. the core of this team has played together for the last 3 years. Velazques was really the only surprise “unknown”. Not saying that they are a team of superstars, but Morales, Espindola, Beckerman, Beltran, Olave, and Rimando are mentioned in any discussion for “best of” at their respective position.

  5. You could easily make the case that Beckham standing and complaining to the ref rather than getting back on the second goal to help defensively cost LA this game.

  6. A very entertaining match. I thought Kevin Stott showed a lot of restraint not giving Beckham a yellow card for his unsportsmanlike conduct. Throwing a tantrum is one thing, but throwing the ball at the referee is quite another. LAG looked tired and uninspired the last 30 minutes. RSL looked fresh and in control during that time period.

    RSL is still a force to be reckoned with. I love how a small-market team full of unknowns has been able to shake up the MLS.

  7. As a Sounders fan I say Thank You to Real … Any time LAG drops points it makes me happy. Beck’s display to the ref was a disgrace … Punctuated by getting burned with a goal …. Getting tired of his antics.

    PS – Have you guys seen the Osvaldo Alonso Honey Badger thing on YouTube?


  8. Again, my observations from the CCL game w/ Toronto. The back line is a hot mess. Galaxy are in some trouble this year. The “stacked” offense cant stop goals from going in the other side.

    Change the Rules, and Bring in BOCA!

  9. It’s only one. The FIRST game. Didn’t lose at home at all last year. Got the monkey off our back now we can concentrate on the next match and not a silly at home win streak. Let’s go boys… Win wednesday and last night is only a memory.

  10. Gil is the future though. At 18 years old he is clearly giving Morales a run for his money for the starting CAM position.
    Gil looked extremely confident on the ball yesterday, and he definitley has that extra quality about his game that will get USMNT supporters excited for his future with the USMNT and his club career. A lot of exciting young players in MLS this year.

  11. Those pundits, and there are many, predicting a Galaxy championship, will look terribly silly unless the Galaxy get some defensive help. RSL’s substitutions paid off in this game, while Arena’s were poor. The LA strikers need to put more in the net every game for them to win.

  12. LA looked tired. They didn’t press on defense and their passing was horrible. Only the direct over-the-top balls got to Buddle & Keane, both played ok. But the midfield was a step behind all the way. They deserved to lose this one.

  13. hitting the post twice and a poor own goal certainly didn’t help the Galaxy. I was at the game and the Galaxy should have won handily. Keane also scuffed an easy chance in the box after a nice cutback to burn his defender.

    Franklin looked terrible defensively.

  14. Great game by RSL and great coaching by Kreis. We’ve discovered that Velasquez is a fearless rookie who will get a lot of starts this year. Chris Schuler is a stud. Can’t wait til the whole squad is back to health. Great first win by RSL.


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