LAFC vs. Galaxy
Saturday, July 18, 2020
7:30 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
POSTGAME SHOW: YouTube TV, Estrella TV
RADIO: ESPN LA 710 AM, 980 AM (Spanish)
After just two seasons, it has already become one of the most intense rivalries in MLS and has taken its spot among some of the most compelling rivalries in world football. The inter-city match-up between LAFC and the Galaxy, coming to you live on Saturday, July 18 from Orlando.
LAFC finally earned its first victory over the Galaxy in the 2019 playoffs, eliminating the Galaxy in the first round in a thrilling, back and forth 5-3 win that marked the end of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s MLS career. In the regular season, LAFC remains winless against the Galaxy, going 0-2-3.
The Black & Gold earned a hard fought 3-3 draw vs. Houston in the first game of the MLS Is Back Tournament on July 13, fighting back from a 3-1 deficit to earn the point, while the Galaxy opened the tournament up with a 2-1 loss to Portland. The Galaxy are still looking for their first win in the abbreviated 2020 regular season.
Two high-profile stars in Carlos Vela and the Galaxy’s Jonathan Dos Santos will not be on the field Saturday, but this game will not lack for drama.
The Galaxy of 2020 are much a different team from the Galaxy of the last two years. Gone is Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 goals in 56 career MLS games. Now, the Galaxy are in the process of adjusting their style of play and figuring out how to score without one of the most unique and gifted attackers the game has seen. With Zlatan, the Galaxy relied on playing long balls over the defense and allowing him to win them at an astonishingly high rate.
Without him, look for the Galaxy to get the majority of their scoring chances through quick transition and a fast, counter-attacking style led by Christian Pavon, while relying on an over-hauled defense that is solid and has become one of the toughest to score on in MLS.
ALL ABOUT PAVON
Cristian Pavon joined the Galaxy last season from Boca Juniors and immediately made an impact. The playmaker is one of the most talented players in the league and is dangerous with his ability to receive and hold the ball, while also taking defenders on. He is the most important feature of a Galaxy attack that so far truly revolves around the mercurial Argentinian.
WHAT BOB IS SAYING: “This is the opportunity for us. Even though our fans are not in the stadium, we know they are watching. Any game between the Galaxy and LAFC takes on extra importance, and we are spending this week preparing like we would at home and we will be ready for the Galaxy.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF…
The Black & Gold are precise in possession and focus on not giving the ball away in dangerous areas, especially near the middle of the field. This will limit Pavon’s dangerous touches and the Galaxy’s ability to quickly counter attack. LAFC will need to dictate the pace of the match, and play a full 90 minutes more like they did the final 45 minutes vs. Houston, creating opportunities with inside passes against a Galaxy defense that is expected to be in a deep block around the goal, hunkered in and waiting for a Pavon-led counter attack.
GALAXY CAN WIN IF…
Christian Pavon takes over. If the Galaxy continuously find the space to counterattack and Pavon is able to be clinical in transition vs. the LAFC backline, he will provide dangerous opportunities for Javier Hernandez.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has a sparkling resume, both in his club career in the English Premier League and with the Mexican National Team. However, so far in three games with the Galaxy in MLS, Hernandez has only managed two shots on goal. He scored his first goal on Monday vs. Portland, and his finishing ability could be a major factor vs. LAFC.
LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer is familiar with Hernandez, as Hernandez scored twice on the Dutch international in 2012 Europa League play, when Hernandez and Manchester United eliminated Vermeer and Ajax.
“I know him from Europe,” Vermeer said. “He knows where the goal is, he is a striker who is smart. He always waits for the right moment and then comes into position – he has a good feeling as a striker.”