Real Salt Lake City vs. LA Galaxy Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 9/29/21

The Galaxy currently hold down fifth place in the West at 11-5-10 but is struggling lately, including a 2-0 road loss to Austin FC last weekend as a +140 underdog. Real Salt Lake isn’t far behind in seventh at 10-6-10, although it will need to bounce back quickly after getting destroyed 6-1 by the Portland Timbers on Saturday as a +259 road underdog.

These teams have met twice already this season, a 2-2 draw in Salt Lake City back on July 21 followed by a 1-0 home win for the Galaxy two weeks later. The Galaxy lead the long-standing series 23-12-16 all-time.

Galaxy’s winless streak reaches seven matches

LA is holding on to a top-five spot in the West by a thread as it has not won since August 14 while getting outscored 5-0 over its last two matches, including a shutout loss at the hands of expansion Austin FC last weekend. The Galaxy carried the run of play in the first half with several dangerous chances yet none would end up in the back of the net, and Austin would slowly build up attack before scoring in the 64th and 79th minutes.

Despite the final score, LA had 61% possession and outshot Austin 14-12 overall, with seven of the Galaxy’s attempts going on target. Chicharito and Victor Vazquez both had glorious attempts in the first six minutes alone that just missed, while goaltender Jonathan Bond made three stops throughout the match.

“This is where we find out a little bit about leadership, resiliency, grit and how people deal with adversity. you have to go through those moments if you want to become a championship team. Every match is like a final now,” manager Greg Vanney said in his post-game press conference via Andy Deossa on Twitter.

The offense has been slowing down lately, bringing LA’s overall numbers to an average of 1.42 goals and 12.57 shots per match on the season. LA’s defense has not been good with opponents managing 1.62 goals and 14.34 shots per match, with the Galaxy keeping just four clean sheets.

As expected, Chicharito has been the star of the show to lead LA’s offense with 11 goals and one assist this season in just 14 matches. Julian Araujo has dished out a team-high five assists, while Vazquez is having a nice season with three goals and three helpers.

Defender Derrick Williams is the only expected absence for LA on Saturday as he continues to recover from an unknown injury after starting 14 games earlier this year.

Real Salt Lake hopes to bounce back quickly from worst performance of the season

Following a pair of huge wins over the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders to move into playoff position, Real Salt Lake came quickly crashing back down to earth as it was dismantled at Portland on Saturday night. The Timbers were on the front foot right away and eventually broke through with a goal in the 27th minute, and while Damir Kreilach made it a 2-1 game just before the break on a short-range shot, it didn’t change things as Portland scored four times in the second half.

Even with the ugly final, both teams finished with nine attempts on target with Real Salt Lake holding an 18-16 advantage in total shots and 59% possession. David Ochoa could only manage three saves against the Portland pressure as Real Salt Lake conceded six goals for the first time since June of 2017.

“A lot of times it looks like lack of effort and tiredness, but we didn’t do a very good job of winning first balls that were crossed in and we did a very poor job of winning second balls and we did very poorly in transition defense. We didn’t stop the play enough, we ran alongside guys and let them play out,” manager Pablo Mastroeni said to Real Salt Lake’s official website.

Real Salt Lake has managed a decent record thanks to the offense, which is putting up 1.62 goals on 13.19 shots per game this season. That was another tough performance for a defense that is allowing 1.58 goals and 13.69 shots per match while keeping six clean sheets.

Kreilach has been one of the most prolific players in MLS with 11 goals and four assists to lead the Real Salt Lake offense. Aaron Herrera has a team-high eight assists while scoring once, and Albert Rusnak is also having an excellent season with seven goals and six assists.

Striker Bobby Wood and defender Marcelo Silva both remain out with undisclosed injuries. Goaltender Zac MacMath, who has seven starts this year, hasn’t played since August 21 for an unknown reason and is considered questionable. Striker Adrian Brody also has a chance to return from an unknown injury this weekend.

Side Prediction: Real Salt Lake -0.5 (+100)

Total: Over 3 (+102)

While both teams are coming off ugly performances, Real Salt Lake has generally been in better form lately and gets the benefit of playing at the always-difficult Rio Tinto Stadium. The scoring for the Galaxy has suddenly disappeared as they have struggled against teams near the bottom of the table lately, while Real Salt Lake’s firepower will challenge the shaky LA defense.

LA has tallied more than one goal in just two out of its last 10 matches while going 2-4-4 in that span, and the last four games have been particularly ugly on that end as it hasn’t gotten anything going against bad teams like Austin and the Houston Dynamo. The Galaxy defense isn’t good enough to make up for that, as it ranks in the bottom five in MLS with 1.67 expected goals allowed per game.

Playing a third straight road game in the elevation of Salt Lake City following two blowouts is a tough situation for anyone, and the Galaxy aren’t particularly good away from home as is. Real Salt Lake’s offense has been lethal at home leading to a 7-4-2 record at Rio Tinto Stadium, and the hosts will push the tired legs of LA too far.

With two strong offenses going against two shaky defenses, expect some fireworks in this matchup this time around. Real Salt lake is certainly a capable offense of breaking down a bad back line with 1.55 expected goals per game this season to rank in the top 10 of MLS, as the star Kreilach is in great form and the team offers more attacking depth than most across the league.

LA has not been a good defense on the road with 1.75 expected goals per game allowed and is missing a starter with Williams out, and the fatigue is taking a toll on this road trip as it has allowed five goals to Minnesota United and Austin. The last meeting between these teams at Rio Tinto produced four goals, and don’t expect either team to keep a clean sheet here.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.

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