Keane equalizer leaves Galaxy and RSL even at Rio Tinto

Robbie Keane

By TYLER GRAY

SANDY, Utah — In a top-tier battle of Western conference powers, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake settled for a 1-1 draw Saturday, with Robbie Keane scoring the equalizer to help the Galaxy earn a road point.

Keane gave the Galaxy the equalizer in the 35th minute, dispossessing RSL defender Chris Wingert in the midfield. Keane ran straight at the goal, turning Schuler inside and out, before slipping a ball past Nick Rimando, leveling the match at 1-1.

Saborio opened scoring in the 19th minute when Javier Morales executed a quick restart, finding Joao Plata. The Ecuadorian got his head up and found a wide open Saborio in the box with a lofted ball. The Costa Rican took his time, settling the ball and letting it bounce twice before placing his shot into the back of the net.

New RSL head coach Jeff Cassar wasn’t ready to concede his team’s mentality changed in the minutes following Keane’s strike, but said RSL lost a little bit of their momentum.

“It didn’t change our mentality, it just took the air out of us for a little awhile,” Cassar said. “We were playing some good soccer and they weren’t doing too much against us. Then they make us pay for a giveaway. After that, it was a battle and we didn’t do the best job of taking care of the ball.”

The injury to Plata just a few minutes before Keane’s strike didn’t help matters much either. The RSL forward pulled up after challenging for a long ball with Galaxy defender A.J. De La Garza. Both players  eventually left the match after they were unable to continue.

RSL clearly missed Plata’s creativity and instincts in the second half. Cassar was quick to say that Saborio and Plata have a special chemistry.

Both teams struggled to put anything together in the second half and, despite the game being mostly wide open, there were very few actual opportunities for either side.

“It just felt like the second half we just kind of ran out of gas a little bit,” said RSL defender Nat Borchers. “I think that we just weren’t able to connect that first pass or maybe that second pass to get forward and get that space in behind them. It just seemed like we weren’t sharp enough.”

Ned Grabaovy echoed his teammate’s comments when he spoke about the differences in the team’s play from the first half to the second half.

“I think we started well — we certainly created better chances in and around their box in the first half,” Grabavoy said. “I don’t necessarily know if it was an injury. Towards the end of the game they sent less numbers forward, so I think it’s probably that more than anything.”

“I was saying to Kyle, ‘I can’t really remember them creating a really good chance or even a decent half-chance besides the goal that they scored.’ That’s how it goes with [the Galaxy].”

RSL can take heart from an improved defensive performance against the Galaxy but they’ll have to dig deep if Plata’s hamstring strain keeps him out for an extended period of time.

The early-season schedule for the claret-and-cobalt will not wait for them to figure things out as the new-look Toronto FC come to town next week and will provide and stiff test for RSL’s lauded depth.

As for the Galaxy, they will have a week off before facing Chivas USA on April 6.

Here are the match highlights:

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29 Responses to Keane equalizer leaves Galaxy and RSL even at Rio Tinto

  1. Chodilicus says:

    Friend has quickly joined my list of most hated players in the league. He was created in the mold of Lenhart and Alan Gordon as guy who are more interested in flopping, whining, diving and cheating than they are in playing soccer. After the blatant dive to draw a penalty at the end of the first meeting between the Gals and RSL, he spent this entire match throwing himself on the ground. The ref bought it hook, like and sinker. Just an absolute disgrace to the game of soccer. It turned a fairly attractive soccer game in the first 40 minutes into a whistle fest with no flow.

  2. Chodilicus says:

    On a better note, Schuler was back and looked like a beast again. If he can stay healthy, I think he is the best CB that the US has. It may be late to add him to the USMNT roster for Brazil, but he is playing amazing the last year and a half while healthy. He is also critical to RSL as they are whole different team when he is on the pitch.

    The article was exactly right, the Gals didn’t create any chances other than the goal which came off a bad mistake by Wingert getting caught on the ball. Schuler dominated the aerial battle against the tallest forward in the league.

    • Neruda says:

      Yea, Schuler is good but he’s not the best CB the US has. He was invited to the January USMNT camp but declined to operate and heal his foot so he is on Klinsi’s list of potential talents and his time may come after Brazil.

      Wingert is becoming a concern for RSL. He’s lost a step (was never the fastest to begin with) and has a penchant for the reckless play and today Keane’s goal was on him. Schuler did as well as he could given the 1v1 against a class talent like Keane. Left back is an area of concern for RSL and the team needs to look to replace Wingert by next year.

  3. Oog says:

    As an RSL fan I think you’re being over gracious with Schuler. I agree that he is vital to RSL’s program, he is a complete beast. He dominated the air completely. However, on the flip side of things, Gonzalez for the Gals completely dominated our forwards. Even Garcia’s speed was no match for Gonzalez. I think he was the better CB in the game. Either way, I’m a huge Schuler fan and was very happy to see him back in the lineup. We desperately needed his air dominance (could certainly have used it in the San Jose game…)

    Second thought, I agree with you on Friend, complete disgrace. The ref was calling a very one sided game. Didn’t enjoy that at all.

    • MLSsnob says:

      Accept for the glaring give away that lead to plata’s first attempt at goal.

    • Chodilicus says:

      Yeah, Gonzalez also lost his mark on the Saborio goal. I agree that Gonzalez is an impressive player, but I think he makes a lot more mistakes than Schuler and is not as good at distribution. He is faster and just as good in the air.

  4. Alex C says:

    I only saw a small portion of the game, and i did not have a good stream. However one thing that bothered me was that when it looked like Donovan had a clear goal-scoring chance, he let the ball go by to nobody. Can someone else who maybe had a better look please explain what happened?

    • Oog says:

      I was at the game, Donovan really didn’t seem to factor into this game very well. He had several chances I thought he should have taken and never did. He seemed to disappear for long sections of the game.

      • Alex C says:

        I hope it is just due to rust and being early in the season. It is baffling to see him pass up such an obvious scoring opportunity.

  5. Oog says:

    Oh, and you should have put up the picture of Keane taunting the crowd rather than the one you posted of him looking semi-respectable.

  6. Good Jeremy says:

    The Galaxy are awful now. I know there are complications and they have to worry about salary cap issues, but their defense has been atrocious since letting Franklin go. Leonardo is just not good enough for this level. They looked a bit better today with AJ in the middle to give them some cover, but their fullbacks were terrible without him on the outside.

    Then there was letting Magee go for a backup publicity magnet and zero draft picks…

  7. Jack Del says:

    Few things.

    Friend is the epitome of what we DO NOT WANT IN MLS. Large, clunky, unskilled, and reckless. To make matters worse, he makes Sturridge look like an iron man.

    Kyle Beckerman twice beat Landon Donovan in an open field sprint. Twice. Donovan also plays like Clint in that he has a pretty obvious temper. He kicked out at a few people today.

    • Neruda says:

      I watched part of the game and are you sure Beckerman outran Landon Donovan? I didn’t see that play.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      I didn’t catch him being outrun by Beckerman, but he has clearly lost a step.
      He was outrun by his counterpart in the Xolos game midweek every time they were in a footrace. I’m guessing that this is why Klinsmann is experimenting with so many combinations outside, especially when it’s clear that FJ is our best left back. Donovan & Dempsey don’t have the legs to play on the wings anymore, although the 4-2-3-1 system that Klinsman loves doesn’t require the same speed and stamina from the outside mids/wingers as other systems.

    • beachbum says:

      Landon does not put it into overdrive like he used to

    • Chodilicus says:

      He was definitely outrun by Luis Gil with the ball when he just took it past Landon and right up the sideline and then past the outside back. I was extremely surprised as I watched it live because Gil is not known for his speed. It may be a sign that Landon has lost a step because the effort seemed to be there and Donovan was actually working really hard defensively in this game.

      On the same note, Gil was extremely impressive again this week for RSL. He was a bright spot in the midfield in a game where Morales was uncharacteristically off his game and very stagnant. Grabavoy also was MIA. But, Gil continues to impress. His running at people with the ball was better in this game than I have ever seen it. He is a natural #10 but showed more ability to attack on the wing than I have seen.

  8. AlexH says:

    So what was the deal with the field at Rio Tinto? It looked like a rec league field and seemed to play like one as well. You would think that for a nationally televised home-opener, the field would look better than it did. Not sure if it was due to the field but there seemed to be a lot of injuries.

    • Mark says:

      Grass stays covered all winter long and was only uncovered this week. Give it a week or two, it’ll green up soon enough.

    • Luis Esco says:

      I didn’t watch the game but it could’t have been worse than Toronto’s field. Looked beat up but someone mentioned it was cuz of the harsh winter.

    • Chodilicus says:

      Rio Tinto has had the best field in the league since it was built. However, when you insist on opening the season in the winter, the conditions in places like Utah, Colorado and the upper midwest are not going to be good. Grass simply doesn’t grow in Utah in early March.

  9. Fredo says:

    Great goal by Keane. It will take time for Galaxy to get their new midfield diamond formation working. I like Landon at the point. Injury subs prevented Bruce from putting in Zardes late to run at Borchers. Sabo will be suspended by DisCo for taking AJ out. Overall, nice result in Sandy.

  10. Josh says:

    I am a long time LAG fan, but I have to say, I think we’re in trouble. It looks like LD is definitely losing steam (am I crazy, or does he look a little chunky?) and Keane also is not as crisp with the ball at his feet as he has been. We have some good pieces coming through the pipeline, but nothing on the Donovan/Keane level. And with both of those two on new contracts, we won’t be able to plug a high end DP into those holes when we realize they aren’t able to carry the team anymore.

    Also, I am not a fan of Rob Friend either, but I will say that much of his going down softly was in response to early moments when Schuler was going through him like a truck. He clearly realized he could put Schuler under card pressure, and made the most of it. That said, the guy is 6’5″, and should just battle. Although I don’t think he could do much if he managed to win a ball anyway.

    Schuler is a beast, but he can be overly aggressive. Opposing forwards can use that against him, as Friend did yesterday. If he can find balance, he could be the second coming of Gooch in his prime.

    • beachbum says:

      LD does look a bit thick in the midsection to me. looks like he knows he’s not fit to go overdrive for fear of popping. maybe he’s carrying a knock? idk

  11. Mike in FL says:

    Gonzo embarrased himself on goal 1. Better not do that in Brasil.

    • beachbum says:

      true, but he was great the rest of the match. we better score a few goals in all of our games in Brazil, not expecting the USMNT to keep clean sheets this summer, but gifts cannot be given either

      for me, Gonzo is best when he’s flying around and physically imposing his will on things in both areas, and also when playing the high line on D when he attacks his mark hard and wins balls by pounding forward. it leads to a second ball scramble often which seems to be frowned upon from USMNT

      so it’s not really what it looks like he’s trying to do out there these days, more finesse in his thoughts and personality than the awesome physical dominator he has been. maybe his injuries play a part in this? idk

      and his partner is key, a guy like AJ or Belser great fits both. makes a difference on his impact

  12. Mike in FL says:

    Whoops I mean on missed goal opportunity 1