Galaxy Stunned in Season Opener Versus Real Salt Lake

March 11, 2012

Carson, CA -- Before a sellout crowd at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, the Galaxy began their 2012 MLS season and title defense with a deflating 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

The LA Galaxy won the 2011 MLS Cup after a dominant season, and the main core of their roster has returned for the 2012 season, including the additions of Edson Buddle and Marcelo Sarvas.

Prior to the Galaxy’s opener, they had a hard fought game in Toronto on Wednesday for a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal game versus Toronto FC that drew 2-2. Despite that exhausting mid-week game, the Galaxy had a good start to the game versus Real Salt Lake.

In the 8th minute, the Galaxy earned two corner-kicks that were taken by David Beckham. Beckham would feed Robbie Keane for an excellent shot at goal, but Keane missed a tad high and wide.

Real Salt Lake finally put some pressure on the defense in the 19th minute and 24th minutes when they sent three crosses into the 18 yard box, but no threat on goal was looming.

The Galaxy attacked in the 26th minute when Landon Donovan sent a perfect through ball to an in-stride Keane, but Keane's pass to Buddle in front of goal was intercepted.

Immediately after the Galaxy’s throw-in, they put a scare into Real Salt Lake as Donovan fired a shot past Nick Rimando that went off the crossbar. The Galaxy recovered the loose ball and Beckham sent in a nifty pass to Mike Magee who tried a bicycle kick from 12 yards out that Rimando was able to barely save.

In the 36th minute, Donovan earned a free-kick for the Galaxy that set up Beckham from about 20 yards out, but his free-kick hit the wall.

Real Salt Lake responded as they worked the ball down field and earned a corner kick.  A subsequent punch-out by keeper Josh Saunders gave the Galaxy a promising breakout as Donovan sprinted up-field with the ball at his feet. However, head referee Kevin Stott inexplicably stopped the advantage as he brought the ball back to the goal for a foul on Real Salt Lake.

As the first half concluded, Marcel Sarvas fired a shot from distance that beat Rimando and bounced off the crossbar down towards goal. But without FIFA’s introduction of goal-line technology, there was no way to rule whether the shot scored or not. The referee's decision was no goal, and the half ended 0-0.

The Galaxy started the second half much like the first, with attacks on goal in the 46th minute from a Beckham corner-kick; a Keane threat in the 49th minute; a Beckham free-kick into the 6-yard box in the 50th minute; and a Buddle shot in the 59th minute.

Around the 70th minute, the game took on a much different complexion, as LA subbed in Michael Stephens and Juninho for Marcelo and Magee, and RSL subbed in Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio.

In the 71st minute, the Galaxy scored when Beckham bent in a distance cross to Edson Buddle, who scored with a header. The goal had Galaxy fans going crazy, as it not only gave LA the lead, but also provided Buddle with his first goal since returning back to the Galaxy from Germany’s Bundesliga.

Seconds later, Real Salt Lake would stun the Galaxy with a cross into the box that Sean Franklin was unable to effectively clear.  The ball went past Saunders for an own goal.

In the 75th minute, Beckham had a chance to head the ball into goal, but missed high over the crossbar.

Minutes later in the 80th minute, Real Salt Lake’s sub, Javier Morales, scored to give RSL a 2-1 lead, as Morales scored an unassisted goal on a rebound that nobody could secure.

The Galaxy tried to fight back to even the score, but in the 85th minute Real Salt Lake clinched the game when Fabian Espindola received the ball at his feet on a sprint and slipped it past Saunders to the far post for a 3-1 Real Salt Lake win.

The win gave RSL a positive start to their season, and provided a tough season-opening loss for the Galaxy.

Last year, the Galaxy were beaten by RSL 4-1 at the beginning of the season, but went on to beat RSL in the Western Conference Finals and win the 2011 MLS Championship.

Galaxy fans hope history repeats itself this year.

News & Notes

At halftime, the media had an opportunity to talk with MLS Commissioner Don Garber regarding the state of the league, NBC’s involvement with MLS, and the Galaxy.

Garber stated that it was great to have Beckham return back to MLS and that the Galaxy’s difficult schedule of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League to start the season was unfortunate. Also, Garber was proud of the growth of MLS as evident in the numbers for MLS in 2011, MLS’ success in the CONCACAF Champions League, and NBC’s presentation of MLS in 2012.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

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