LAFC vs LA Galaxy
Friday, July 8, 2022
Banc of California Stadium - Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, ESPN LA App, 980 AM La Mera Mera
It is always bigger than just three points when LAFC takes on the Galaxy in a regular season match-up. Now, as LAFC sets its sights squarely on the on top of the league, another step toward the Supporter’s Shield defeating their inter-city rivals. LAFC celebrated Giorgio Chiellini's formal introduction to the Club with a resounding 3-1 victory at Banc of California Stadium last Wednesday. The Club then lost just its fourth match of the season in Vancouver 1-0 on Saturday, allowing a goal in the 89th minute against the Whitecaps with a rotated lineup that nearly earned a point on the road.
On Friday, the Galaxy (8-3-6, 4th in the West) will come north from Carson to face LAFC for the third overall time this season. LAFC have not defeated the Galaxy since a 2-0 win at Banc of California Stadium on Oct. 25, 2020, and is hoping the third time is the charm in 2022 for Cherundolo’s squad.
THREE KEYS TO THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP:
1) Reap the benefit from Saturday’s loss:
Having just beaten Dallas midweek on June 29 and having played three games in eight days, LAFC rotated its squad against Vancouver. José Cifuentes was unavailable due to yellow card accumulation and Carlos Vela and Brian Rodríguez did not make the trip due to lingering injuries, and LAFC switched tactics from their typical high-speed attack to a slower, more methodical pace.
The Black & Gold looked to absorb pressure from Vancouver's attack, maintain possession, and be selective in their own offensive efforts. Had LAFC's defense held, the team would have left Vancouver with a valuable point in a difficult place to play, but in the final moments of the match, midfielder Andres Cubas, the newest Whitecap, broke through with his first goal for the club. Now, with the Galaxy on the horizon, LAFC is well rested and suspensions have been served, meaning it is all hands on deck for Steve Cherundolo's side on Friday night. LAFC must look to win the ball and move it forward from the opening whistle through the end of added time and should have the fresh legs to do so.
2) Defend the Banc:
LAFC is 7-1-2 at home so far in 2022, and the only team to take three points out of Banc of California Stadium this season is Austin FC in late May. Since joining the league in 2018, LAFC’s home record is even more impressive, as the Club has lost just eight times in 72 MLS regular season matches, going 44-8-20 for 152 points, the second-highest point total at home in the league in that span, trailing only NYCFC (154 points).
The Black and Gold has now scored in 35 consecutive regular season home matches, equaling the third longest streak in MLS history.
In terms of recent form, LAFC is 3-0 in its last three home games. The team's four-match unbeaten streak may have ended north of the border last weekend, but for LAFC to reach a four-match win streak at home and continue this season's dominance in the Banc, LAFC will have to come up with three points against the Galaxy for the first time under head coach Steve Cherundolo. A sellout is all but assured; there will be plenty of energy in the stadium for the team to feed off. Additionally, the Galaxy just played and won 4-0 against the Montreal Impact on the 4th of July. To have to play LAFC just four days later puts the road team at a clear disadvantage on paper, especially against an LAFC side that will be looking to run.
3) The Chiellini Effect:
We know Carlos Vela will start the match against the Galaxy. We know Gareth Bale will not. We don't know what involvement defender Giorgio Chiellini will have in the match, though we do know he will be available. Steve Cherundolo was extremely complimentary of his new defender's impact on the team in practice so far, and while it's still very early in his tenure, it will be interesting to watch how his teachings manifest in the rest of LAFC's defenders. However, LAFC's head coach revealed nothing to the media after Thursday's practice about the Italian legend's playing time other than saying, "We'll have to wait and see." The intrigue of whether Chiellini will make his debut against the Galaxy will be the talk of the match until game time, and if Cherundolo does call his number at any point in the match, the North End will overflow with support and energy the moment they hear #14 announced. Whether it's an opportunity to put an exclamation point on a victory in hand, or a momentum shifter to invigorate the players and fans, the potential of Chiellini looming over this match could be a good thing for LAFC.
Inspired by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, an RPG video game series, based on an earlier comic book series, and with a subsequent new comic book series, all based on the fictional universe of Star Wars by George Lucas.