LAFC at Galaxy
MLS 2021 Season - Match #4
Saturday, May 8, 2021
5:00 p.m. PT
TV: FOX, FOX Deportes
RADIO: ESPN LA 1110 AM, ESPN App, KFWB 980 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, here we go again. The first 2021 regular season edition of the LAFC – Galaxy rivalry is upon us. Approaching the fourth match of the season, the Black & Gold are still unbeaten, however with just one win and two ties in their last two games. Last week saw the Club hit the road for the first time this season, taking on Western Conference opponent Houston Dynamo FC. LAFC tallied a point in the 1-1 draw, but as LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said in his postgame remarks, the result was less than ideal.
“We were just missing that sharpness,” Bradley said. “The timing in some cases, and in some cases running out of ideas. I think we felt that part all day long.”
Up next, LAFC faces the rival Galaxy with a new head coach in Greg Vanney, and a renewed sense of purpose. This season has seen the Galaxy start off on strong footing, taking their first two matches against Inter Miami and New York Red Bulls respectively, with Chicharito tallying a league-leading five goals. They faltered last match, losing to the Sounders 3-0 in Seattle, but they have plenty of positives from their first three matches.
Sharpness will be a key in this matchup, as past editions have produced chaotic-high scoring affairs. In nine regular season matchups, a total of 20 combined goals have been produced in the first and last 15 minutes of play. LAFC’s current regular season record against the Galaxy sits at: 2-4-3, but this matchup tends to swing wildly game to game.
Tune in, it’s sure to be a wild one.
A lot has been made about Chicharito this year. He’s in better shape, more motivated and scoring goals. But rather than heaping individual praise on just one player, it is important to acknowledge the new system that has facilitated this resurgence. Greg Vanney’s system is one that does not rely on the Galaxy’s attacking forwards to advance the ball up the pitch. Rather, the team builds out of the back more and relies on their midfielders and wingers to put the ball in spaces for Chicharito to sniff out and finish. So far, so good in the first three games for the Galaxy.
It’s tough playing without your star player in any situation, but in the case of Carlos Vela, it is an even tougher task when you take into account his previous performances in this rivalry series. In only eight matches across all competitions against the Galaxy, Vela has scored ten goals. Even more eye-opening, he has produced three multi-goal games in the series, the last coming in the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals (3/31/18, 7/19/19, 10/24/19). Even more compelling, with the resurgence of Chicharito this season, if Vela is able to come back for this matchup, it will be to outshine his fellow countryman who has dominated the league spotlight thus far.
At the end of the day though, with or without Carlos, the Black & Gold are ready. When asked about missing Carlos, midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye added.
“Yeah, it's unfortunate, because Carlos is, I would say, still the best player in the league. And it's unfortunate when we have that guy, and you see him every day in the locker room, and he can't suit up beside you,” said Kaye. “But we have guys here who've been working really hard to get better, you know, just gives guys more opportunities to showcase themselves.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF
The Club can keep the Galaxy out of their half, for as long as possible. It’s also important to note that while LAFC has maintained a clean defensive record on set pieces in this young season, the Galaxy are a squad that likes to operate in the air. LAFC must be strong in the air, and on set pieces.
GALAXY CAN WIN IF
If their wingers can win individual battles and provide service into the box. Chicharito has made a career on finding himself in the right place in the right time, and if the Galaxy can get him the ball in a dangerous place, they have a chance.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES BY THE NUMBERS
Los Angeles FC record: 2-4-3
Home games: 1-1-2 (7 GF, 7 GA)
Road games: 0-3-1 (6 GF, 11 GA)