Real Salt Lake-Galaxy Preview

The Los Angeles Galaxy’s star-studded lineup lived up to lofty

expectations last season and won the MLS Cup.

The club is looking to add more hardware in 2012, but Real Salt

Lake is seeking a trophy of its own.

The reigning champion Galaxy try to continue their success

against Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night in a

rematch of last year’s Western Conference final.

Los Angeles went 19-5-10 last year, claiming the Supporters’

Shield for the best regular-season record before winning all four

playoff games, including a 1-0 victory over Houston in the MLS Cup

final Nov. 20.

With stars David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane back,

the Galaxy are looking to become the first team to win consecutive

MLS titles since Houston in 2006-07.

“We want to improve from last season,” said Beckham, who

re-signed with Los Angeles after totaling 18 assists last year in

his best season with the club. “We went all the way, won the

championship and performed very well – but we want to do it again

this season. A lot of hard work is required but we’ve got a group

of players willing to do that.”

They also have their sights set on becoming the first MLS side

to win the CONCACAF Champions League. However, those hopes were

nearly dealt a severe blow by Toronto FC in the first leg of the

quarterfinals Wednesday. The Galaxy gave up two goals in the

opening 17 minutes before Landon Donovan completed a rally with an

88th-minute tally in a 2-2 draw.

“We think we have a team that’s capable of doing something

special,” Donovan told the team’s official website.

Donovan had 15 goals last season and scored the winner in the

Cup final. The midfielder enters this season with impressive

momentum, getting three assists in a seven-game loan stint with

Everton of the Premier League.

Keane is also coming off a loan spell in England, scoring three

goals in seven games for Aston Villa. The Irish forward had three

goals in eight MLS games after joining the Galaxy.

Donovan and Keane each had a goal as Los Angeles beat RSL 3-1 in

the West final Nov. 6.

Central defense is a major concern after reigning league

defender of the year Omar Gonzalez suffered a torn ACL in a

training session while on loan to Germany’s Nurnberg.

Veteran Andrew Boyens filled in Wednesday and another option is

Tommy Meyer, the 19th overall selection out of Indiana in January’s

SuperDraft.

Los Angeles also re-acquired forward Edson Buddle and midfielder

Juninho.

The Galaxy went 15-0-5 at home last year, and they’re 3-0-1 in

the last four there against Salt Lake.

RSL is also eyeing the MLS Cup while looking to advance to the

knockout stage of next season’s CONCACAF Champions League.

“If we achieve those, we succeed,” general manager Garth

Lagerwey told the team’s official website. “If we don’t, we fail.

It’s very black and white this year … period. End of story.

“Everybody’s been around at least three years in this core

group. We kept this group together for one reason – to win, and to

win titles. We will be judged and we will be successful if we win

titles.”

Real returns much of the team that went 15-11-8 in 2011 and

became the first MLS club to reach the CONCACAF Champions League

final, which it lost 3-2 to Monterrey of Mexico.

A healthy Javier Morales could make a difference. The midfield

playmaker was limited to two goals and four assists in 13 games

last season due to an ankle injury.

He has three goals and two assists in his past four meetings

with Los Angeles, and is expected to start behind forwards Fabian

Espindola and Alvaro Saborio, who combined for 21 goals last

year.