Carson, Calif. • In the all-important first match of its two-leg series, Real Salt Lake abandoned its patented 4-4-2 formation known for the its potency with a diamond-midfield foundation Â and implored a different look against the L.A. Galaxy.
RSL coach Jason Kreis and staff shook things up a bit by implementing a 4-2-3-1 formation, thrusting holding midfielder Yordany Alvarez into a defensive role with captain Kyle Beckerman. The change put forward Alvaro Saborio up top in a solo striking role, with midfielders Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales and Luis Gil behind RSL's leading scorer.
It was the fourth time in 2013 RSL stepped away from its archetypal formation. The first three matches in which RSL departed from the diamond formation, their record was 3-0-0.
The three wins came at Toronto on June 29, at Dallas on July 13 and at Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 10 against Houston.
A wall between the posts
Nick Rimando is the only player to have played all 1,320 minutes of postseason play in franchise history entering Sunday night's first leg against the Galaxy. The RSL goalkeeper has won two MLS Cup titles, one with D.C. United in 2004 and the other with RSL in 2009.
Entering Sunday, Rimando ranked among the top three in MLS history in minutes played (2,389, third), saves (100, third) and shutouts (10, third). Rimando has been between the posts during RSL's run of of six consecutive postseason appearances, the longest active streak in the league, and second longest in league history.
A pair of hamstring injuries kept two players at home this week. Forward Joao Plata and defender Lovel Palmer did not make the trip to Southern California this week after each left the regular-season finale against Chivas USA on Oct. 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Plata scored the match-winning goal against the Goats in the second half of the final regular-season match.