Real Salt Lake 3 vs LA Galaxy 0
September 19, 2015; Rio Tinto Stadium
Real Salt Lake (10-11-8, 38 points); LA Galaxy (13-9-8, 47 points)
Man of the Match: Forward Devon Sandoval had two goals on the night, giving him three in his last two matches after he scored last week against the Houston Dynamo. First, he pounced on a third-minute goal after Javier Morales played a ball in for Aaron Maund and Maund redirected it across the goal for Sandoval to knock it home for the early lead. Then he put the match out of reach with his second goal in the 53rd minute, heading in a great ball from Juan Manuel Martinez. In three matches this week, including the CONCACAF Champions League match against Santa Tecla FC on Tuesday in El Salvador, Sandoval played 259 minutes and was the only RSL player to start all three matches.
Telling Stat: Saturday was the fourth time this season that Javier Morales finished with a goal and an assist this season. In those four matches, RSL is 3-0-1, with the lone draw coming in a wild 3-3 affair with the Philadelphia Union in March. It’s a feat he’s accomplished 11 times since 2013, with RSL totaling an 8-1-2 record in those matches.
What You Missed: Tony Beltran – a two-time All-Star right back – started the match at left back for the first time since June 30, 2012. After Demar Phillips suffered a hamstring strain that knocked him out of contention for action on Saturday, Head Coach Jeff Cassar opted to keep Jordan Allen at right back, where he started in place of Beltran when he was out on yellow card accumulation last week against the Dynamo and deploy the veteran Beltran in the left back role. That duo was able to limit the Galaxy’s danger on the wings while also getting involved occasionally in the attack.
So What: This was a convincing win for RSL but there is still work to be done over the final five matches of the season. The three points put RSL within striking distance of the final playoff spot, three points behind the Portland Timbers entering Portland’s meeting with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. The match next week in San Jose becomes even more crucial as RSL needs to leapfrog the Earthquakes, two points ahead of Salt Lake with 40 points. The race in the Western Conference could make for an exciting final month, to say the least.