For LAFC, the theme of the club’s focus Saturday is simple — revenge.
The last time the team hosted Real Salt Lake, it ended with dashed hopes of MLS Cup glory in the very first round of the playoffs. It’s been months since the loss, and at the moment, LAFC is right where it wants to be — sitting at the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference, 2-1-0 and flexing its offensive power early in the season. But the promising start is nothing compared to the sting of last year’s loss.
“It’s payback time,” Latif Blessing said. “We’re gonna beat them, . . . like, five goals to one. We’re gonna do it. The same thing [we did] in their stadium, we’re gonna do it here.”
It’s been a slower start in 2019 for Real Salt Lake, which has gone 1-1-1 to start the season. It’s most recent match was a 5-0 thrashing on the road at the hands of D.C. United. During RSL’s win and draw, the team only scored a total of two goals. Both goals were scored by attacking midfielder Albert Rusnák — one off a penalty kick — who has served as the team’s main offensive catalyst this season. The Slovakian native is in his second year with the team, and he brings a wide range and the ability to finish in the box.
In looking for revenge, LAFC will look to continue to smother the Real Salt Lake attack and to counter by striking early on the offensive end. The team’s sole negative finish so far this season was its most recent match, a 2-2 draw on the road at New York FC. After a frustrating draw buoyed by a last-minute equalizer from Carlos Vela, the team feels at peace returning to the raucous atmosphere of Banc of California stadium.
“We love playing home games,” Bradley said. “We certainly feel the atmosphere and the support of all of our fans. We go into every home game excited, knowing that other teams still enjoy coming in. It’s a great place to play. We go in with a real good sense of how we want to play.”