In a Triple Clasico weekend (including the Super Clasico in Liga MX and La Liga's Madrid-Barcelona match), the MLS' own infamous rivalry squared off at the Home Depot Center, watched anxiously by a sell-out crowd. LA started off strong with several consecutive attempts, putting on the pressure on the guests and getting a whole lot of space on the opposition's side of the pitch. The Galaxy were the undisputed favorites in the first ten minutes, and at many times, it seemed they could have won. Landon Donovan's combinations with Robbie Keane brought some major sparks to the first half. It was no surprise that Keane's one-touch finish opened up the score. Bruce Arena's team continued to dominate the midfield as well as RSL's 18-yard box. Despite another fantastic combo by the Galaxy's duo, aided by Magee, Donovan was unable to get the ball in. The guests seized the opportunity to equalize, getting a one-two play in and making use of a defensive mishap. Fabian Espindola got his 8th goal of the season, and soon after he got his double. The latter goal was a brilliant header off the ground, a ball that's always a challenge for even the best of keepers. RSL's playmaker has continued his success after scoring a career high of 10 goals last season. The guests' goalkeeper Nick Rimando was sharp, as well, finding the right positions to save Franklin and Magee's shots. The Galaxy were not without their own stellar keeper. Saunders stopped Saborio's one-on-one attempt and prevented Espindola from getting a hat-trick in both halves.
The Galaxy continued where they left off, still dominating RSL's box at the start of the second half. Among the numerous attempts, Donovan and Juninho's shots stood out. Once again, Rimando came through for the guests. The shots were 16:4 in favor of LA, so it seemed paradoxical that the team was unable to get another ball in for over 45 minutes. Sadly, the Galaxy had lost some of that momentum and rhythm they had created early on. Robbie Keane's presence on the pitch became less and less prevalent as the game came to a close. Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman prevented a great counter from shaping into a potential goal and had a long-range effort. Yet the Galaxy still had more of the ball. The guests resorted to the occasional foul and a few fake dives, anything to take back the initiative. Donovan made a brilliant run for LA on the left and was visibly taken down in the 18-yard box. The ball went out for a corner, and the referee seemingly dismissed what was a most obvious penalty. Even with one of their best players out and Keane's creative effort lost, the Galaxy pressed on. David Beckham continued to feed the ball into the box and set up the attempts. He was impressive all throughout the game, one of the best set piece masters of his day. RSL still had some tricks up their sleeve, however. It was only Saunders' skillful saves that prevented Saborio from scoring and Espindola from getting his hat-trick during stoppage time. Villarreal, who came in for Donovan earlier, had a last-second effort that was saved by Rimando, before the final whistle blew and the home team was forced to accept an undeserved loss.
LA had one too many chances to get ahead; perhaps one of the factors that prevented them from doing so was the refereeing. Poor calls by the linesman prevented the home team from getting a corner, gave a way a free kick to the guests, and left the Galaxy without a penalty. On the other hand, LA had many more attempts they could have - and should have - used. As we've seen with the Mexican Super Clasico earlier today, it's not about the moments you create, but how you use them. A team can have a few shots on goal altogether but score from every single one, while another can test the keeper all they want but get absolutely nowhere. This will likely be a major theme during playoffs and may lead to some unexpected yet interesting results.