Match Preview

Preview | LAFC vs Real Salt Lake 3/2/24


LAFC vs Real Salt Lake

Saturday, February 2 at 11 am 1 pm PT

Location: America First Field - Sandy, Utah

Radio: 710 AM ESPN, ESPN LA App, 980 AM La Mera Mera

After a season-opening 2-1 victory over northern rivals Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday, LAFC travels to face Real Salt Lake in a Western Conference showdown on Saturday, March 2, at America First Field in Sandy, Utah.

Mateusz Bogusz’s curling goal-of-the-matchday from distance in the 55th minute not only helped the Black & Gold extend its perfect opening day record to 7W-0L-0D, it extended the club’s unbeaten streak against the Sounders to seven games. 

LAFC is one of four Western Conference teams to come away with three points after the first week of regular-season play. 

The Black & Gold have a record of 14W-3L-0D all-time against Real Salt Lake in all competitions, the most wins LAFC has over any other MLS team.

Real Salt Lake in-depth

Led by 47-year-old former USMNT player Pablo Mastroeni, RSL is looking to pick up its first win of the season after emerging from its first two contests with a single point.

RSL played in the MLS season opener on Feb. 21, losing to Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF 2-0 in South Florida, followed by a 1-1 road draw with St. Louis CITY SC on Saturday, Feb. 24. 

Former Black & Gold forward Cristian Arango has scored RSL’s lone goal so far in 2024, a nifty two-touch finish in the 74th minute in St. Louis. The Colombian striker also scored the only goal in RSL’s most recent clash with LAFC, a header in the 72nd minute of a 1-0 win in October 2023 at BMO Stadium. 

Salt Lake has made significant additions to its roster in preparation for 2024. New members of the “Claret and Cobalt” include former Middlesbrough midfielder Matt Crooks, and 17-year-old Mexican youth international Fidel Barajas. Midfielder Pablo Ruiz is still their attacking and defending hub. The two goals that 20-year-old phenom Diego Luna scored in three playoff games last year were a warning about the danger he presents.

The Black & Gold Will Win If:

It can adjust to the rain, snow, wind, and 40-degree temperatures that are expected to arrive in Utah by Saturday. Those conditions will threaten to continue LAFC’s struggles in regular-season road matches. In 2023 LAFC won just four away games in league play. Three European players who are coming off strong 2024 debuts for LAFC (French goalie Hugo Lloris, German-American midfielder Timmy Tillman, and Bogusz, the Polish forward/midfielder) have plenty of experience playing in harsh weather overseas. Another Frenchman, reigning Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga, scored three goals in three matches against RSL last season.

Real Salt Lake Can Win If:

It creates more than the three shots on goal it mustered against St. Louis last weekend, and the two on-target chances the club created against Miami in its season opener. Defending has not been a concern for the Claret and Cobalt, who played most of the Miami match on its own terms and appeared destined to defeat St. Louis on the road before a superhuman effort by STL striker Sam Edeniran equalized that match in the 79th minute. RSL will need to find scoring options other than Arango if it hopes to break through an LAFC defense that has allowed just one non-penalty-kick goal over its last five matches, dating back to the 2023 playoffs.

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