Real Salt Lake face Galaxy in search of top-four seed

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Saturday, October 14, 2023

Real Salt Lake sewed up a playoff spot on a night in which they weren't playing and remain in the hunt for a top-four playoff seed entering Saturday's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Carson, Calif.

Real Salt Lake (13-12-7, 46 points), who clinched Wednesday night, have two matches left, while the fourth-place Houston Dynamo (48 points) and fifth-place Vancouver Whitecaps (47) each have one remaining. That leaves RSL in a good position despite sitting sixth in the Western Conference.

A top-four finish would provide homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Galaxy (8-13-11, 35 points) were eliminated last weekend when they were pounded 5-2 by host Minnesota United. Teemu Pukki scored four goals in a 31-minute stretch for Minnesota.

The Galaxy have allowed an astounding 22 goals over their past seven matches.

Los Angeles started the campaign slow and made a midseason push before enduring the defensive issues down the stretch. The Galaxy are 0-2-2 since their last victory.

"This season felt like five seasons worth of challenges inside of one season, and we couldn't manage all of it and get ourselves to the playoffs and the final stages," Los Angeles coach Greg Vanney said. "I don't know any other way to put it right now."

Forward Tyler Boyd, tied with Riqui Puig for the team lead in goals with seven, expressed his disappointment.

"Just devastating not to make it to the playoffs," Boyd said. "Not good enough, really."

The Galaxy and Real Salt Lake split two meetings in Sandy, Utah, earlier this season, both by 3-2 scores. The first was a regular-season matchup on May 31, won by the Galaxy. The teams met again seven days later in a U.S. Open Cup match, with RSL prevailing. Saturday's match was initially slated for Aug. 20 but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Hilary hitting Southern California.

RSL will likely be without forward Cristian Arango (hamstring) after he was injured during a 3-2 home loss to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday.

"No update, other than any time anyone comes out with a hamstring, it's probably not good," RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni told reporters.

Arango has six goals in 11 MLS matches since making his first appearance for RSL in early July.

Forward Jefferson Savarino (seven) is the lone RSL player with more goals than Arango. Savarino (Venezuela) will be away from the team this weekend due to international duties as will forward Rubio Rubin (Guatemala) and midfielders Braian Ojeda (Paraguay) and Kevon Lambert (Jamaica).

--Field Level Media