Rivalry with Galaxy 'respectfully played'
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis isn't ready to place his team's rivalry with the LA Galaxy on the same level of the Colorado Rapids or even the Galaxy and Chivas USA, which call the Home Depot Center the home field.
RSL and Rapids games are typically nasty, bruising with plenty of extracurricular activity off the ball and on it, to be honest.
"The games between [RSL and LA] have always been respectfully played," Kreis said. "It's very competitive with a lot of good soccer."
Even though the two teams have played in just one playoff game prior to Sunday, there are players from both sides who remember that 2009 championship. Eight RSL players who started Sunday also played in that MLS Cup game, compared with six Galaxy players.
Kreis is an outspoken opponent of MLS playoff format, which includes two conferences and wild cards. This season, RSL, the third seed in the Western Conference, and second-seeded Seattle played in the conference semifinals.
So, either the No. 2 or No. 3 ranked team in MLS would automatically be eligible for the final four spots. Kreis favors seeding the postseason purely on seeding and not conference rank. The top teams were all from the West.
"I disagree with how the playoffs are and have for a while now," Kreis said. "LA should have played the last-place team, which they did, and Seattle [should have played] the next-to-last-place team. Ultimately, it's a bad thing Seattle had to play us and now Seattle is out of the playoffs."
Last season, the Galaxy's Donovan Ricketts was named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, but Ricketts suffered a broken arm midway through 2011 and Josh Saunders was put into goal.
Although Ricketts is fully recovered, Saunders has been LA coach Bruce Arena's first choice. Saunders has proved Arena correct.
Saunders' point-blank save on the New York Red Bulls' Joel Lindpere in the first leg of the Western Conference semis was arguably the save of the playoffs.