By IVES GALARCEP
CARSON, Calif.–The LA Galaxy came out firing early on in Saturday night's Western Conference showdown vs. Real Salt Lake, and when Robbie Keane unleashed a beautiful left-footed volley in the 17th minute to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead, RSL looked like they would be in danger of being routed.
Then Fabian Espindola stepped up and punished the Galaxy yet again.
The Argentine striker finished off chances in the 25th and 28th minutes to give RSL the lead, and Real Salt Lake's defense made the goals stand up as the visitors recorded a 2-1 victory at Home Depot Center.
The win pushed RSL five points clear of the Galaxy in the race for second place in the Western Conference. The loss leaves the Galaxy in jeopardy of falling into fourth place, behind the Seattle Sounders, who trail the Galaxy by one point with two games in hand. The Sounders play the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Espindola has made a habit of punishing the Galaxy in recent years, and Saturday marked the fifth straight regular season match that he recorded a goal or assist against LA. He finished off a quality passing sequence between Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio for his first goal of the night, then headed home a Morales cross just three minutes later to give Real Salt Lake the lead.
The Galaxy held the edge in possession and in overall shots on goal, but could not add to Keane's first-half striker in the second half, with RSL defenders doing an excellent job of blocking a plethora of Galaxy shots in the penalty area.
The Galaxy lost Landon Donovan to a knee injury in the 85th minute when he landed awkwardly after a shot from the left flank. He left the match and after the match said he would have his knee evaluated to determine if the injury would keep him from joining the U.S. national team for World Cup qualifying training camp in Miami next week.
RSL has won three in a row and will look to secure second place in the East with a win against Seattle on Oct. 17th. The Galaxy face a daunting final stretch, with a date against first-place San Jose on Oct. 21st before their regular season finale against Seattle on Oct. 28th. A match that could decide which team finished in third place, and which team has to endure the wild card round.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Impressed with RSL's recent form? Think the Galaxy are capable of recovering and recapturing their championship form?
Share your thoughts below.
agreed. It reminded me of their matchup in the conference finals last year. End to end action, chances for both teams, good passing sequences, thrilling soccer.
It was very good attacking soccer on both sides and fun to watch. I wish MLS officials would insist on putting good quality matchups on national TV more often instead of just big market teams.
With respect to the game, great goals and a lot of good offensive skills and build up. Even some of the kill-off-the-game play in the final 30 minute was fun to watch. The RSL goals were great skill, not defensive miscues by the LAGs. It could have been worse as most of the dangerous chances were on the RSL side from what were mistakes by LA defenders.
Either way, a great game to watch. Nice to see a game with so much great skill and plenty of scoring opportunities.
Snark PoPo in the house. So, what you are saying is you have never seen a player or coach drop the F-Bomb on camera in an MLS game? Have you ever watched an MLS game? Seriously? Sounders match tonight saw plenty of F bombs on the TV.
Personally I thought the first half of that match was some of the best soccer ever
Played in MLS. Loved Espindola’s celebration, one of the hardest working players in the league.
No need for snark, if cameras catch it, is it a problem? I have no idea.
Serious class from Keane on that first goal. That was incredible. That said, GO RSL!! Looks like they’re peaking at just the right time.
Espindola does the Haka.
What an absurd statement. Those goals weren’t all Omar’s fault. Meyer was shaky at best last night, missing his mark on a number of occasions and not challenging in the air. Omar showed last night that he has improved his first touch as well as his decision making immensely. There isn’t a center back in the pool that has improved as much as omar.
Yes, I’ve changed my mind about Gonzalez. I was there and he looked so slow. He plays well, but he really can’t run well.
Say what you want about Espindola’s celebration but Keane’s fluttering fairy jig was about as “fancy lad” as I have ever seen. Someone put his river dance shoes back in the closet and tell him to lace up his boots.
Espy – “One! This is the size of just one of my nuts”
Espindola really exposed Gonzalez at CB. Without DeLaGarza to help in the clean up he was left stranded time and time again. Not ready for a USMNT call up
I’m sure that’s the first time anyone on a MLS pitch has ever heard that spanish expletive, right?
Haven’t seen a “big balls” celebration since the 2010 NBA season.
I’m being totally serious here, could Espindola be fined for his Pedro Cerrano celebration? I love an edgy celebration, but his seemed a little much, punctuated with the clear expletive at the end in Spanish.
Great win from the Royals, they seem to be rounding into form at the right time after floundering for much of the summer.
Galaxy so thoroughly dominated first half that it looked like they were going to run RSL right out of the stadium. Credit the RSL defenders for keeping them in the match while they were getting utterly hammered. Then two horrid defensive breakdowns by LA Galaxy and all the air left the stadium. Second half was just RSL parking the bus and laughing their way out of the stadium.
Must have caption contest with this one.