Carson, Calif. • Last year, a stunning home loss in the Champions League haunted Real Salt Lake deep into its Major League Soccer season.
This year, you could argue it was a meltdown against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
RSL entered its crucial game against the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night knowing it hasn't been quite the same since the Galaxy came back from a two-goal deficit and shocked RSL 3-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium back on June 20.
To that point, RSL was 10-3-2 and leading the league. The Galaxy were just 4-8-2.
But since the Galaxy took staggering advantage of several RSL defensive mistakes and scored three goals in the final hour, RSL is just 6-7-2 while the Galaxy are 10-3-3 and riding a seven-game unbeaten streak.
"We only talk about performances and don't bring up too often past results," RSL coach Jason Kreis said, "and I feel like our performances are heading in the right direction."
Indeed, RSL is 5-1-1 in its last seven games in all competitions, and finally shook off a scoring slump when it beat Chivas USA 4-0 here last Saturday.
Missing in the midfield
Veteran midfielder Will Johnson did not make the trip for RSL, after his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter on Wednesday.
His absence meant RSL had typically reserve players starting on the outside, with regular starter Ned Grabavoy also out, due to a quadriceps injury suffered last week in training. Teenager Luis Gil started in place of Grabavoy in his last game before joining the U.S. Under-20 national team, while Jonny Steele made his second start in the last 10 games since July 27.
After meeting the Galaxy, the team will have 11 days until its next game, at Seattle on Oct. 17.