Steve Carrillo

LA Galaxy brace for difficult test with Real Salt Lake

The LA Galaxy will have one last chance to get a win at home before the World Cup break sees a significant gap in league games. And their Western Conference opponent, a surging Real Salt Lake, isn’t likely to just roll over and play nice for the home team.

Real Salt Lake (7-6-1) will travel to StubHub Center (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SpectrumSN, SpectrumDeportes) on a four-game league winning streak, are sitting in third-place in the conference and seventh-place overall in the league.

The Galaxy (5-7-2), sit considerably further down the standings at eighth in the Western Conference, and fifteenth overall in the league, but only five points separate the two teams with the numbers telling just how close these two teams are.

Both the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake have scored 19 goals on the season with the Galaxy allowing 23 goals and Real Salt Lake allowing three more. The Galaxy’s goal differential sits at minus-four while Real Salt Lake’s goal differential is at minus-seven.

And even the Real Salt Lake’s wins seem to cast doubt on their high standing in the conference.

But the real question mark seems to be their road record. Having gained just two results out of seven games their 1-5-1 traveling mark indicates it won’t be a cake-walk for the Mike Petke coached side.

The Galaxy will be without Jonathan and Giovani dos Santos as both travel to Russia for the start of the World Cup. But should gain striker Ola Kamara back from international duty with Norway after he played just 45-minutes over their two friendlies.

Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid will have to decide on whether or not Kamara is rested enough to start or if he’ll allow the Norwegian striker to come off the bench. Which could set up another experiment of sorts with Zlatan Ibrahimovic — outside of the 18 minutes he played against Portland at the top of the formation, the Galaxy haven’t had Ibrahimovic play as a sole striker on the field.

The defense, rested for the Open Cup match (outside of a few minutes for Dave Romney), will be ready to return against a talented attacking core for the visitors.

Forward Corey Baird leads the team in goals with four, but three other players have three goals on the year – Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata, and Luis Silva. Damir Kreilach leads the club in assists (4) and has a group of others with three each —  Sebastian Saucedo, Rusnak, and Brooks Lennon.

Real Salt Lake likes to spread the ball around, and that’s evident by the variety of players who are assisting and scoring for the club. If they line up in a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 they have more than enough talent in the midfield and at scoring positions to cause some issues for the Galaxy, but the Galaxy should also be able to find some space around their defense.

Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Servando Carrasco, and Chris Pontius all seem likely to start, with Emmanuel Boateng playing a significant amount of minutes in the Galaxy’s 3-1 victory in the US Open Cup, and unlikely to be involved from the first whistle.

Bradford Jamieson, recovered from his preseason concussion and another injury, could also be available for this match as a sub after looking sharp in 73 minutes of play — which included a goal — midweek.

The Galaxy will need to continue their momentum from the draw against Portland and their Open Cup win and hope that Real Salt Lake’s loss to Sporting KC in the Open Cup gives them some pause coming into StubHub Center.

A StubHub Center, by the way, that will be celebrating its 15 year anniversary during this match.

The Galaxy’s next game will be a June 15 kickoff against the Timbers in Portland for the Open Cup. And then they won’t play another game until they travel to Standford Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes on June 30 (7 p.m. – Unimas).