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In the quest for playoff positions, both LAFC and Real Salt Lake stand out as fringe teams that are attempting to secure last-minute places into the knockout round.
And although LAFC have the home advantage in this one, RSL have reason to believe that they could escape with at least a draw.
A few marquee names from LAFC will be tired after the international break, and as for RSL, there seems to be no lack of attacking options who could find the back of the net.
LAFC haven’t been at their best in recent weeks, and with that in mind, a tight result should be in the works.
We gotta give credit where credit is due to RSL.
Once a side that appeared to be destined for a place near the bottom of the Western Conference, RSL have looked surprisingly solid throughout 2021 in their defense and attack.
Before the start of the weekend’s games, only three teams in the Western Conference have scored more than RSL, and in defense, only four teams have allowed fewer goals.
These are decent numbers, and regardless of the fact that they’ve had to deal with some coaching chances, interim manager Pablo Mastroeni has followed through with one loss and one win.
Most importantly though, LAFC will be a few steps behind after the international break.
While RSL had one player on duty, LAFC, on the other hand, have had four key players returning from World Cup qualifiers.
RSL’s lone player on international duty, Justin Meram, has finished his run with Iraq’s national team.
As for LAFC, they have Ecuador’s Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios, South Korea’s Kim Moon-Hwan, and Uruguay’s Brian Rodriguez all busy for their national sides.
What makes matters more difficult is the schedule of South America’s World Cup qualifiers, which had three of these names involved in gameday rosters on Thursday.
While Rodriguez took part in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Ecuador, on the other end of the pitch, Cifuentes and Palacios remained on the bench for Ecuador.
These are key figures for LAFC who will be jet-lagged as they head back to Los Angeles before Sunday’s game.
It’s actually quite impressive to see the growing list of names who have stepped up for RSL.
Unlike other teams who are entirely reliant on a focal point or leader, RSL have a number of options.
Just to name a few, Damir Kreilach has eight goals and four assists, Albert Rusnak has six goals and three assists, and in support, new signing Rubio Rubin has five goals and four assists.
It’s promising stuff for RSL, and no matter who is starting in the frontline, they have no lack of dangerous game-changers in their XI.
In their short history, there was once a time when LAFC were dominant at home. Thanks to their passionate fanbase, the Banc of California became a fortress early on in their MLS experience.
That hasn’t exactly been true this season.
Even with fans back, LAFC have only been able to collect one win in their last five games at Banc of California.
Whether it be due to a lack of progress from the team itself, or the absence of a marquee player like Carlos Vela, LAFC has been far from impressive on their home ground.
|LAFC vs Real Salt Lake Information|
|Teams||LAFC vs Real Salt Lake|
|Location||Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles, California)|
|Time||Sunday, September 12th at 7:30pm PT/10:30pm ET|
|How to Watch||ESPN+|
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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