LA Galaxy host Real Salt Lake on Saturday night for the first time this season. This is the last match for LA to get three points before the World Cup break. Here are three things to keep an eye on in our preview for this big Western Conference clash.
1. Roster Selections
Despite a midweek US Open Cup match, the Galaxy have regular first team members available for the starting XI. However, there are two questions marks heading into this weekend’s match. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be coming back into the lineup as the main striker against RSL.
Emmanuel Boateng, however, played 71 minutes against FC Golden State Force. How fit will he be heading into this one? If Boateng does start, he certainly won’t make it more than an hour would he?
Who would start on that left flank then?
That all depends on Ola Kamara, the other lineup conundrum. He is back from international duty with Norway, but those long journeys to Europe are taxing on the body. Kamara played just 45 minutes against Panama on Wednesday in the capital city, Norway. But by the time kickoff comes around, that will have been just 72 hours between matches. If rested and in good shape, expect Kamara to start.
Otherwise, Chris Pontius will probably get the starting nod. Pontius has played well the last several times he’s been called upon. Notably, in the surprise start as the main striker last weekend. He scored a goal and hit the crossbar. That confidence should carry over into future matches.
2. RSL’s Unpredictability
Unpredictability? Whatever do we mean? Take a look at the visitors’ goal scoring stats real quick. The Poway, California native Corey Baird leads the team with four goals and one assist. But the buck does not stop with Baird.
Five others have found the back of the net multiple times. This list includes Albert Rusnak (also has three assists), Joao Plata, Luis Silva, Damir Kreilach, and Jefferson Severino. That is very impressive. It shows other clubs that you never know where their offense is going to come from.
And because of that, it makes Real Salt Lake unpredictable and hard to defend.
3. The Right Kind of Shots
The Galaxy need to do a much better job taking the right kinds of shots. So far this season, they have 164 total shots. However, only 56 of those attempts were stopped by opposing goalkeepers. That means that only about 34% reach their target.
If you dig into the stats a little deeper, you will find some alarming numbers. According to whoscored.com, LA take a little over three shots from outside the box and about one comes from inside the area.
Why is this important? Well, just take a look at their total goals for the season. Sigi Schmid’s squad have scored a mere 19 goals in 14 matches played. That will not get the Galaxy going on any kind of point stealing streak this season.
In order for that to change, the forwards need to stop settling for shots. They need to get into better positions and take higher quality attempts on goal. And the Galaxy need to start that turnaround on Saturday night against Real Salt Lake.