By IVES GALARCEP
CARSON, Calif.–The LA Galaxy came out firing early on in Saturday night's Western Conference showdown vs. Real Salt Lake, and when Robbie Keane unleashed a beautiful left-footed volley in the 17th minute to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead, RSL looked like they would be in danger of being routed.
Then Fabian Espindola stepped up and punished the Galaxy yet again.
The Argentine striker finished off chances in the 25th and 28th minutes to give RSL the lead, and Real Salt Lake's defense made the goals stand up as the visitors recorded a 2-1 victory at Home Depot Center.
The win pushed RSL five points clear of the Galaxy in the race for second place in the Western Conference. The loss leaves the Galaxy in jeopardy of falling into fourth place, behind the Seattle Sounders, who trail the Galaxy by one point with two games in hand. The Sounders play the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Espindola has made a habit of punishing the Galaxy in recent years, and Saturday marked the fifth straight regular season match that he recorded a goal or assist against LA. He finished off a quality passing sequence between Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio for his first goal of the night, then headed home a Morales cross just three minutes later to give Real Salt Lake the lead.
The Galaxy held the edge in possession and in overall shots on goal, but could not add to Keane's first-half striker in the second half, with RSL defenders doing an excellent job of blocking a plethora of Galaxy shots in the penalty area.
The Galaxy lost Landon Donovan to a knee injury in the 85th minute when he landed awkwardly after a shot from the left flank. He left the match and after the match said he would have his knee evaluated to determine if the injury would keep him from joining the U.S. national team for World Cup qualifying training camp in Miami next week.
RSL has won three in a row and will look to secure second place in the East with a win against Seattle on Oct. 17th. The Galaxy face a daunting final stretch, with a date against first-place San Jose on Oct. 21st before their regular season finale against Seattle on Oct. 28th. A match that could decide which team finished in third place, and which team has to endure the wild card round.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Impressed with RSL's recent form? Think the Galaxy are capable of recovering and recapturing their championship form?
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