Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
SANDY— Real Salt Lake hopes to keep building momentum when it hosts the L.A. Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday afternoon in the club's 2014 home opener.
It will be the second meeting between the two rivals in just three weeks.
“There’s really no choice. You can like it or not, (but) it’s going to happen,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman of the match that will kick off at 2 p.m. and be televised by NBC Sports.
“We’re just looking forward to it. We like playing against them. Usually it’s a good game with the rivalry, so we don’t care,” Beckerman added. “We’ve got to play them three times anyway, so if it’s in the beginning or the end of the season it doesn’t matter.”
RSL managed to sting the Galaxy with a 1-0 victory on March 8 at StubHub Center, the club's first victory under new coach Jeff Cassar. After earning four points in two road games, Cassar expressed his excitement about finally getting to play at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“Really excited to get in front of our home fans and give them a show, and just feel their energy. We’ve had two rough away games, so it’s nice to be back home, that’s for sure,” said Cassar.
“I can’t wait to hear the chants from the fans, and for the players to get that backing from the crowd. It’s going to feel great.”
With its 3-3 draw at San Jose last week in the rearview mirror, RSL will have to be wary of a Galaxy squad that was just eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League this week.
“I’m sure it was tough for them to take. It always is,” said Beckerman. “Everybody that’s in, especially in the quarterfinals, you can kind of taste getting far. But we know they're going to be motivated, so it should turn out for a really hard game for us.”
Though RSL's backline took a hit because of a hamstring injury to defender Aaron Maund, center back Chris Schuler has made tremendous strides to get back on the pitch. It would be a welcome sight for Salt Lake to see the big body of Schuler in RSL's defense against the Galaxy.
Meanwhile, midfielder Javier Morales is listed as probable for the match. Should Morales suffer a setback before kickoff, Luis Gil would again be called upon to fill in at the top of the diamond for RSL.
“We know what they’re capable of,” said Gil. “They’ve got guys up there that can make it or break it for them and that’s something we’ve got to deal with — and I think we’ve got the guys to do it.”
It should be duly noted that L.A. star Landon Donovan has his sights set on the MLS all-time regular-season goal scoring mark, with just one more goal needed to claim sole possession of the title ahead of Jeff Cunningham’s mark of 134. Donovan has nine goals and nine assists in his career against RSL.
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