PREVIEW: LA Galaxy’s Transcontinental Clash at New York City Football Club

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CARSON, CA - MARCH 4: Giovani dos Santos #10 of Los Angeles Galaxy during the Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against Portland Timbers at the StubHub Center on March 4, 2018 in Carson, California. Los Angeles Galaxy won the match 2-1. (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Preview (March 10, 2018) – The LA Galaxy return to the field looking to build off their 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in the season opener. The victory saw 2017 team MVP Romain Alessandrini and newcomer Ola Kamara get off the mark within minutes of each other as the Galaxy were able to endure a desperate second-half comeback by the Timbers. The Galaxy look to stop a sizzling New York City Football Club side that won a convincing 2-0 contest in their opener against Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park.

NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy

2018 MLS Regular Season
Yankee Stadium
March 11, 2018 – 2 pm PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Stream: MLS Live

PREVIEW: LA Galaxy’s Transcontinental Clash at NYCFC

What to watch for:

Who replaces Romain Alessandrini?

Romain Alessandrini is definitively ruled out of this contest with a right hamstring injury. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid doesn’t seem too worried.

“We have a lot of people [to step in], especially in the midfield and the attacking. I think we have the players to replace him for a couple of games, but, of course, we’re going to miss him.” [1]

The LA Galaxy have also ruled out newly acquired Chris Pontius.

This leaves the United States International, Sebastian Lletget, as a probable starter. However, Ariel Lassiter could also see time on the wing. If the LA Galaxy opt for a more pragmatic, defensive approach, Giovani dos Santos could slide out to the wing and an additional midfielder would step into the midfield three.

Do the LA Galaxy rotate Michael Ciani?

Michael Ciani played fantastically against the Portland Timbers in the season opener. Like Gary Payton in his prime, Ciani locked down Portland’s point man, Fenando Adi, for much of the game. On occasion, Ciani also pushed into the attack. He should have drawn a penalty when he was cleared out by a slide tackle from the Timber’s Marco Farfan in the 36th minute.

However, Yankee Stadium will not present Ciani and the rest of the Galaxy’s backline with a big, physical hold-up player like Adi. NYCFC will attack with pacey, eccentric players such as Rodney Wallace, Maximiliano Moralez, Jesus Medina, and Spanish icon David Villa.

The saving grace for Ciani, and the LA Galaxy is that Yankee Stadium is one of the smallest fields allowed by FIFA regulations. Yankee Stadium’s miniature field will certainly help mask Ciani’s lack of pace. However, do not be surprised if Daniel Steres is called into the starting XI as he is the more nimble of the two center-backs.

How do the LA Galaxy return with three points?

The answer is both complex and simple. The simplicity lies within the left foot of Giovani dos Santos. The Mexican International struggled through the entire 2017 season scoring only three goals from the run of play.

Those struggles continued against Portland. The elder dos Santos brother disappeared for large portions of the match. When he did step into the light, he fired a sitter from the edge of the box to the 18th row of the StubHub Center. If the LA Galaxy are going to win in New York, Giovani dos Santos certainly needs to show off his mercurial talents.

If dos Santos performs the way he is capable of, and Perry Kitchen can provide cover for a back-line that is still coming into form, the LA Galaxy will have a great opportunity to touch down in Los Angeles with three glorious points heading into the FIFA international break.

Previous Meetings:

NYCFC lead the all-time series 2-1-0 and are 1-0 at home. Despite this, the Galaxy have outscored New York City thanks to a 5-1 dismantling of NYCFC in August 2015, the first ever meeting.

The two teams met once in 2017 where New York City came out with a 2-0 victory in Los Angeles. New York City conceded possession in that game 54%-46%. In the match, the LA Galaxy also outshot New York City 21-10 but found themselves on the wrong end of two wonderful long-range strikes from the aforementioned David Villa and youngster Jonathan Lewis.

Final Prediction: NYCFC 2, LA Galaxy 1

The truth is Major League Soccer is impossible to predict. The Galaxy are still coming off their worst season in club history. One more win shouldn’t shoot the confetti for a 6th MLS Cup. A transcontinental flight to face the 2017 Eastern Conference runners-up makes for a difficult ask of Captain Ashley Cole and company. Expect the Galaxy to sit in and try to break on the counter with pace. Ema Boateng will try to stretch the field and work his patented low-crosses. Ola Kamara will try to run onto a ball in the final third and nestle a clinical finish into the back net. Giovani dos Santos will continue to be an enigma. The defense will struggle to contain the pacey, creative attack of NYCFC. The LA Galaxy will come home with some moral victories, but they will leave three points in New York.

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  1. It seems you were correct in your prediction as NYFC actually used their pacey attack for a couple of strikes that netted them the victory. Nice work again with the breakdown, insightful and well written.

    • It pained me to get those predictions correct! I was truly hoping to look like a fool on the Galaxy’s behalf; however, when the team’s strifes are neatly packaged into a tightly constructed man-bun, it is simply too easy. Thank you again for letting me jump in on the podcast, good sir. I look forward to discussing some soccer in a forthcoming installment.

  2. MAN! I’ve been a little distant as if comes to paying attention to soccer or to some “proper football”….after listening to Phelps on the Hot Topic Sports Podcast and reading these, its clear I need to tune in more often and step up my fan-ship.


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