March 9, 2018 / 8:35 PM / in 6 months

Can Real Salt Lake bring expansion Los Angeles FC down to earth?

With one stunning result on the board, can Los Angeles FC do it again?

Week 1 wasn’t supposed to end with a win at two-time defending conference champion Seattle and three points in the standings, but alas one look at the Western Conference standings shows just one team with a road win in the young season.

Los Angeles FC.

So can the club do it again in Sandy, Utah, at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday? Real Salt Lake seemed to have their opener — in Frisco, Texas, against FC Dallas last Saturday — well in hand before Marcelo Silva’s own goal in the 86th minute gave Dallas a 1-1 draw and left RSL longing for home and a chance at redemption against expansion LAFC.

Last week’s frustrating result echoes last season’s struggles for RSL, whose 0-1-2 start cost coach Jeff Cassar his job and who finished the first half of the season a disappointing 5-2-10. Despite a much better second half (8-4-5), the hole was too deep and RSL missed the playoffs.

Typically a home opener against an expansion team would be a great way for a club to rinse away the bad taste of a season-opening loss, but LAFC is riding high right now. Twenty-year-old Diego Rossi scored just after the 10-minute mark, his first MLS goal in his first MLS game, and the quickest first goal for an expansion team in MLS history.

RSL will need sustained attack from last week’s goal-scorer Joao Plata and young stars such as Albert Rusnak to temper LAFC’s confidence and avoid last season’s stumble out of the gate. Cleaner play from Silva in the box is also a must, but they’ll be missing defender Tony Beltran (knee surgery). Defensemen Adam Henley (hamstring) and Jose Hernandez (groin) are questionable.

For LAFC, more of the same from Week 1 will do. Rossi’s first test suggests he’ll be right at home in MLS. They’ll be without goaltender Luis Lopez (stress fracture), midfielder Calum Mallace (right knee bone bruise) and defender Walker Zimmerman (right hamstring strain). Right back Omar Gaber is questionable with a left abductor strain.

—Field Level Media

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