RSL hope to keep Vela, LAFC in check
Real Salt Lake are on their best run of the season and ascending toward second place in the Western Conference. Next up is a meeting with the most prolific goal-scorer in Major League Soccer, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela.
Salt Lake puts its six-game unbeaten streak on the line Saturday in Sandy, Utah, when it hosts LAFC and Vela, whose 23 goals lead the league.
Real Salt Lake (12-9-4, 40 points) are 4-0-2 in their past six games, keeping the streak going with a 3-0 home win over the Seattle Sounds on Wednesday. It was RSL’s first win under interim coach Freddy Juarez, who replaced Mike Petke last weekend.
Petke was set to return from a three-game MLS suspension for foul language and poor conduct toward officials during a Leagues Cup game, but RSL decided to move on.
The team’s surge continued Wednesday when Sam Johnson, Albert Rusnak, and Corey Baird scored while the defense did not allow Seattle to get a shot on goal.
“I think this is a good point to catch them,” RSL assistant coach Tyrone Marshall said of playing LAFC. “We’re playing well. They’re coming in. They’ve been fantastic all year, so it’s good for us to catch them on a rhythm like this that we’re in.”
RSL is 15 points behind first-place LAFC but enters this weekend level on points with the Los Angeles Galaxy for third in the West. Salt Lake is one point behind second-place Minnesota United and one ahead of Seattle.
Vela leads the scoring race by three over Atlanta’s Josef Martinez, who has scored in a league-record 10 straight games. Vela has scored in 17 games and recorded five multi-goal games, but he did not score in LAFC’s 2-1 win over RSL on March 23.
Los Angeles FC (17-3-4, 55 points) has outscored opponents 65-25, holds a six-point lead over Philadelphia in the race for the Supporters’ Shield and can clinch a postseason berth with a win and a loss or tie by FC Dallas to Montreal.
LAFC have scored 10 goals during a three-game winning streak, and they are 6-1 in their past seven games. They kept rolling with a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, when Vela scored and collected two assists on goals by Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura.
“He was our first signing and a big statement of the kind of football we wanted to play,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said of Vela, who has 37 MLS goals in 51 games over two seasons. “He’s been fantastic in all ways.”
–Field Level Media