MLS Preview: Galaxy eye first win of season
Los Angeles Galaxy will be looking for their first win of the MLS season when they travel to Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
In a rematch of one of the Western Conference's semi-finals last year, Galaxy will be looking for revenge against their hosts, who have one win and a draw so far in 2014.
Real defeated Galaxy 2-1 on aggregate in their two-legged semi-final thanks to Christopher Schuler's extra-time strike in Utah.
Due to the vagaries of the MLS draw, Saturday's game will be the fourth consecutive match between the two teams with Galaxy having opened their domestic campaign with a 1-0 loss to Real in LA.
Joao Plata scored the winner for Real in that game and with two goals in as many games, the Ecuadorian forward will have to be watched by Galaxy's defence at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Plata scored Real's second goal in their scintillating 3-3 draw at San Jose Earthquakes last week.
Real's goalkeeper Nick Rimando injured his back in that match but played out the 90 minutes and the 34-year-old has claimed he will be ready to take on LA.
"Never had a feeling like that with my back," Rimando said at training this week.
"With some treatment, the back loosened up. No problems at all. I feel 100 per cent."
Real will be disappointed to have given up a 3-1 half-time lead last week but could be the fresher of the two teams after Galaxy played in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday.
Tijuana defeated Galaxy 4-2 in Mexico to overcome the Americans 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals but may have unearthed a new star forward after an impressive debut off the bench by Rob Friend.
The former Germany-based Canadian striker made a big impression in the second half against Tijuana and Galaxy captain Robbie Keane enjoyed linking with the 195cm forward.
"Rob isn't one of these (target forwards) that you can just smack the ball up to him and he flicks (it forward), he holds the ball up and gets involved in the play," Keane said.
"It gave myself and Landon (Donovan) a lot of joy just behind him."
Galaxy (zero points) are bottom in the Western Conference table ahead of their clash with Real (four), who lie fourth.
In another tasty all-Western Conference fixture, second-placed Chivas USA will travel to FC Dallas with both teams level on four points.
Chivas beat Chicago Fire in their opening match before drawing with the West's leaders Vancouver Whitecaps last week, while Dallas trumped Montreal Impact before drawing with reigning champions Sporting Kansas City.
The top three in the West will not be expected to hold off the likes of Real, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers throughout the season but another win on Saturday for either Chivas or Dallas should see them at least avoid that fate for another week.
Vancouver will travel to New England Revolution, who are bottom of the Eastern Conference after two straight defeats.
In the East, second will also take on third with the Philadelphia Union travelling to Columbus Crew, while big-spending Toronto FC will play their first home game of the season as they face lowly DC United.
In other fixtures, Sporting will host the Earthquakes and Montreal face the Sounders in Canada, while on Sunday, New York Red Bulls will visit Chicago.
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