Real Salt Lake-Galaxy Preview
Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy cannot finish any worse than fourth in the Western Conference, but that's obviously not an ideal spot.
If the Galaxy don't win Saturday night's matchup in Southern California, though, that's likely where they're headed.
Coming off a disappointing tie with a lesser opponent, Los Angeles will try to bounce back by taking over second place from RSL.
While San Jose is running away with the West with 61 points, there is a logjam for the next three spots. Real Salt Lake (16-11-4) is in second with 52, the Galaxy (15-11-5) have 50 and the Sounders have 49 with a game in hand.
Los Angeles has the toughest remaining schedule with a road match against the Earthquakes and a home game against Seattle, which has the easiest schedule the rest of the way.
A win over RSL would give the Galaxy a one-point lead for second, but anything less leaves them in danger of finishing in fourth place, which puts them in the knockout round. Los Angeles won 3-2 at Salt Lake on June 20 but suffered a 3-1 home loss to RSL in the season opener.
Los Angeles wasted a golden opportunity to get a victory Sunday against Colorado, which entered play with two wins in 14 games. Marcelo Sarvas opened the scoring in the 10th minute but the Rapids didn't fold, netting the equalizer six minutes later to end the scoring.
Adding to their frustration, the Galaxy lost defender A.J. DeLaGarza to a left knee injury in the 30th minute, and he will not play this weekend. Tommy Meyer, Andrew Boyens and David Junior Lopes are all likely replacements for DeLaGarza, second on the team with 2,734 minutes.
There were two positive developments that came from the draw - which extended Los Angeles' unbeaten streak to 5-0-2 - as David Beckham and Landon Donovan received extended minutes.
Beckham, appearing for the first time since spraining his left ankle Sept. 1, played 87 minutes. Donovan, playing his third straight league game since a hamstring injury sidelined him for three, played all 90.
Donovan had two goals and an assist against RSL in June.
"It was good to get the minutes in," Beckham told the Galaxy's official website. "We have a tough three games coming up before the playoffs, and it would be good to be fully fit for that."
While Los Angeles failed to defeat an overmatched opponent last weekend, RSL had no such trouble beating Chivas USA, the West's worst team. Alvaro Saborio scored two goals in the first 12 minutes and added another in the second half of Saturday's 4-0 win, Salt Lake's third in four games.
"At the end of the season you try to get as many points as you can and that was the mentality going into the game," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "The guys capitalized on that. All week we talked about going forward and getting offensive threats and that's exactly what we did."
Saborio's goal in the 65th minute gave him 17, breaking the single-season franchise record set by Jeff Cunningham in 2006.
Saborio, second in the league in scoring, had a goal in the loss to the Galaxy.