Major League Soccer
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MLS Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, March 10, 2012 (All times Eastern)

Real Salt Lake (0-0-0) at Los Angeles (0-0-0), 10:30 p.m.

Carson, CA (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Galaxy will begin defense of its MLS Cup title at The Home Deport Center on Saturday in a rematch of last season's Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy claimed a 3-1 win over RSL en route to the MLS Cup title last season, and Bruce Arena's team has to be considered the most talented on paper heading into the new campaign.

Not only was the Galaxy able to retain key components from last season's team in David Beckham, Juninho and Robbie Keane, but the club brought back 2010 team MVP and leading scorer Edson Buddle, who spent last season with German side FC Ingolstadt.

Offensively the Galaxy should be one of the most explosive clubs in the league, but the biggest question will be in defense with the absence of 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez.

The 23-year-old tore his ACL in his first training session while on loan at German side Nurnberg and his absence will leave a major void in the middle of defense.

Anything less than a return to the MLS Cup will be a disappointment for L.A., but Salt Lake will be expecting to push the defending champs every step of the way.

RSL knows how tough it can be to overcome a major injury to a key player as the Claret-and-Cobalt lost midfielder Javier Morales for the majority of last season.

Morales played only 10 games for the club last term after suffering a fractured leg in May, and his return to form would be a major boost to RSL's hopes of getting back to the title game.

There is little doubt about the ability of Jason Kreis' starting 11, but questions about depth surround the club as key reserves like Jean Alexandre, Arturo Alvarez and Andy Williams have moved on, with more inexperienced players filling in.

Salt Lake is a side that has undergone few changes in recent years, and general manager Garth Lagerwey is expecting nothing less than a title this season.

"Everybody's been around at least three years in this core group," Lagerwey said. "We kept this group together for one reason - to win, and to win titles. We will be judged and we will be successful if we win titles.

"Moral victories don't work anymore. We made it to the finals of CONCACAF Champions League [last spring]. We lost. We agonized over it for six months. It's gone. It's in the past."

03/09 13:20:42 ET