MLS Playoff Preview: Real Salt Lake - LA Galaxy

Seth Vertelney
MLS Playoff Preview: Real Salt Lake - LA Galaxy

Real Salt Lake heads home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal against the LA Galaxy on Thursday, and although LA carries a 1-0 lead, it could have been much worse for RSL.

In Sunday's first leg, the Galaxy spurned a number of chances to increase their lead, most notably through missed breakaways from Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Sean Franklin's screamer proved to be the game's only goal as the Galaxy take a slim advantage into the second leg.

RSL began Sunday's match with a 4-2-3-1 formation, a marked change from its usual 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. Head coach Jason Kreis is likely to revert to his normal formation for the second leg, as his side needs to win the match to avoid being bounced from the postseason in the conference semifinal for the second straight year.

The two-time defending champions have the advantage but will have to overcome their poor road form this season, which saw them go 4-9-4 away from home. One of those wins did come at Rio Tinto back in April, however.

The Galaxy have no injury concerns to speak of and were boosted by the return of AJ DeLaGarza as a sub in the first leg. The defender had missed six weeks with a dislocated elbow.

For RSL, both forward Joao Plata and defender/midfielder Lovel Palmer have recovered from hamstring injuries suffered in the Oct. 23 regular season finale and will be available for the second leg. Starting midfielder Ned Grabavoy, however, is a doubt with a hamstring injury he picked up Sunday.