SANDY — Arguably the most curious story in MLS this season revolves around the L.A. Galaxy. A perennial Supporter’s Shield contender, the franchise has been awful this year and is in danger of finishing with the worst record in MLS.

And there’s no silver lining in MLS either for tanking as teams do in the NBA or NFL. The draft has little value.

It’s shocking that a big-market team like Los Angeles has only two home wins this season and has a 2-9-4 record. They’ve long since been eliminated from the playoffs, and contracts are the only thing the players have to play for.

Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke said that type of motivation makes the Galaxy a very dangerous team heading into their game Saturday night (8:30 p.m., KMYU) at the StubHub Center.

“I’ve been on those teams, and sometimes that’s a bigger thing to play for than three points,” said Petke. “I’ve been on those teams where it’s not been a good season and you’ve been warned that no one's contract is guaranteed and you don’t want to be that guy scrambling for a job next year.”

So while RSL takes the field desperate for points as it jockeys for a playoff spot with Houston, Dallas and San Jose, its opponent will likely throw caution to the wind with just three games left until the offseason.

“I can see them being riled up to just go to come after us defensively and offensively, and that’s why it’s going to pose an interesting challenge for us at times,” said Petke.

So fresh off back-to-back home wins over Western Conference foes ahead of it in the standings — Portland and Seattle — RSL takes the field on Saturday facing perhaps an even tougher challenge.

Houston found that out on Wednesday. Desperate for points just like RSL, it came out with a poor mentality at home against Los Angeles on Wednesday and fell behind 3-1 early in the second half. It rallied for a 3-3 draw, but it dropped two valuable points against one of the worst teams in the league. Those two dropped points might cost the Dynamo a playoff spot after the next month shakes out.

A similar poor start is something Real Salt Lake simply can’t afford against the Galaxy.

“We’re all very aware, very aware, that nothing is guaranteed. It doesn’t matter how we’re playing right now. Doesn’t matter about records, all that matters is 90 on the day, and they’re going to be a tough opponent,” said Petke.

With wins in five of the last seven games, Petke really likes the mentality of his team late in the season. That late-season push has vaulted RSL into a fifth-place tie in the Western Conference with 41 points. There’s no breathing room though.

Dallas also has 41 points in the standings but it has played one less game. Houston sits in seventh with 40 points, but it also still has an extra game to play.

Real Salt Lake prevailed 6-2 in its other trip to Los Angeles back on July 4, the start of the club’s remarkable turnaround. Its record was 5-12-2 heading into that match having been outscored 38-17 in the first 19 games of the season.

In the past 12 games it has outscored opponents 29-14 and amassed a 7-2-3 record.

“I feel we’re in a very good spot with our play, with our mentality, overall with the camaraderie with the feeling in the group,” said Petke.

After Saturday’s game MLS takes a week off for World Cup qualifiers, with RSL returning to action on Oct. 15 at Colorado.