LAFC vs Carson Galaxy: El Trafico Preview
It feels different this time.
With the elimination from the Open Cup completely behind them along with a confidence-booster win on the road in Houston last week, LAFC will drive twelve miles down the 110 freeway to Carson on Friday night and visit the Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. This will mark the 4th overall meeting between LAFC and the Galaxy with the Black & Gold yet to beat their crosstown rivals. Although the players are downplaying the match as “just another game”, there must be a sense of revenge in their minds considering how the games turned out last season. With a much more solidified system in place, a better understanding of Bob Bradley’s football ideas and improved chemistry between the players, LAFC enter this version of “El Trafico” with no shortage of motivation to finally defeat Carson.
Zlatan-Dependent But Defensively Good
During the 2019 season, the Galaxy has shown to be vulnerable at home with four losses, all of which have come in the past five games at Dignity Health Sports Park. Not only has Carson allowed 8 goals over that five-game home stretch, they have only scored half the amount of goals and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes up for three of those. The Galaxy has not been a very good home team as of late and their success heavily depends on the production of Ibrahimovic, who leads the team in scoring with 13 goals. How much does Carson depend on Zlatan? Put it this way, the next goal scorer is Daniel Steres, a center-back, with three. The disparity is abysmal and if the Galaxy want any chance at getting a positive result against LAFC, they will have to diverge from the one-trick pony approach and allow for other players to get involved in attack.
Even with one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time in world football, Galaxy’s offense have struggled recently in comparison to LAFC. Over the past three matches, Carson has only been able to score three times while the Black & Gold have netted 14 goals over the same amount of games. Is that too small of a sample size for you? LAFC has scored 26 more goals this season than the Galaxy! It just goes to show the difference in styles of football where one is an offensive, possession-oriented style (LAFC) and the other is more of a direct, kick-the-ball-into-the-box approach (Galaxy). The difference in this match will not be whether the ball gets to the opposition’s side but in how it gets there. The midfield will play a major role in terms of creativity but also disruption as both sides look to expose each other’s weaknesses.
The Galaxy is very good defensively in the air as they have yet to concede a header goal all year. In addition, head coach Guillermo Barros-Schelotto has done a fantastic job with his set pieces defensively as Carson has yet to allow a goal off a corner kick or free kick this season. LAFC will have to use a combination of low crossing, give-and-go passing along with taking shots from outside the box to unlock the Galaxy’s defense.
The LAFC Experience
There have been a few questions raised this week regarding the starting lineup for LAFC and who Bob Bradley will select to be on the pitch for the opening whistle. The goalkeeper, left-back and center-forward situations were ones of special interest as Bradley has very good options to choose from. In my opinion, Bob will rely on his more experienced and trust-worthy players from the start with Tyler Miller getting the nod at goal, Jordan Harvey at left-back and Adama Diomande at the striker position. Miller has better communication with his backline, especially Walker Zimmerman, than Sisniega does and his hunger for revenge can be used as fuel to ignite an exceptional performance. Mohammed-El Munir has played some of his best football with LAFC in recent weeks but Harvey’s excellent positioning and tactical discipline will be much needed vs Carson. As for Diomande, the forward appears to be back in form after playing a full 90 minutes for the first time in Houston and scoring three goals in the past two league games.
The midfield trio of Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Latif Blessing will be crucial in the aspirations of the Black & Gold winning this match. The chemistry between them will be highly required to get past the defensive block of Joe Corona and Jonathan Dos Santos, two very experienced players. Although LAFC’s midfield has displayed great performances, it is still a very young one with an average of 23 years of age. The game in Carson will present a good opportunity for the “Three Amigos” to solidify themselves as one of the best, if not the best midfield in MLS.
Club captain Carlos Vela has scored in each meeting between LAFC and the Galaxy with a total of four goals in three matches. The league’s leading goal scorer has 19 goals and 12 assists so far this season as he will look to lead his team to victory for the first time over Carson. LAFC’s other DP Diego Rossi is on an absolute tear right now with three goals in the past three league matches but has yet to score on the Galaxy.
The most important moment of the match will be when the first goal is scored. Carson tends to have a reaction when the ball goes into the back of the net. The Galaxy has a record of 10-1 when scoring first but have a losing record of 1-7 when conceding the opener. The good thing about LAFC and their football is that regardless of the score line, they continue to play their style until the final whistle. The intensity and speed of the game may fluctuate but Bradley’s ideas remain.