LAFC vs Carson Galaxy: LA Derby Preview
There is not much to say that hasn’t been said already.
After defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0 earlier this week, one would think that Bob Bradley’s well-oiled machine is finely tuned for Sunday’s match vs the Carson Galaxy. However, in the football world, momentum means little to nothing and preparation will only take you so far as derbies are a category of their own. Take the last meeting between these two clubs as an example: the Galaxy had lost two of their previous three games while LAFC were riding a three-game winning streak. Come game time, the Galaxy was much more intense along with playing better football than the Black & Gold and deservingly got the victory. This time around, LAFC are currently on a five-game winning streak while Carson has three defeats and only one victory in that same five-game span, not to mention a four-game losing streak on the road. If you add all that to the Black & Gold’s undefeated season at Banc of California Stadium, not many would argue that LAFC are the favorites (again) to win this match. Like I mentioned earlier, you can throw that entire narrative away one the opening whistle blows as mentality, in-game intensity and physicality tend to take over in derbies. Hopefully LAFC are able to surpass the mental block and allow their good football to dictate how the game plays out.
Yesterday in training, Bob Bradley reiterated what he said on Wednesday’s post-game press conference in what I believe is very important. “We want to find a good balance between going quickly and getting out chances but then also knowing how to control games.” Considering LAFC’s offensively mentality to always go forward and attack, Bradley emphasized how difficult this is but it is something that is worked on every day in training. If you remember the previous LA derby, the Black & Gold got an early goal but slowly lost control of the game and were unable to recover. LAFC will be looking for that early goal again but hopefully can find the balance that Bob is talking about.
Historically, there has been one specific player on the Galaxy roster that has given the Black & Gold more problems than any other. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has 6 goals in 4 games against LAFC and has played the antagonist role to perfection as he has feasted on second and loose balls. The intensity levels along with quick reactions and anticipation from the defenders and midfielders will need to be on point to prevent Ibrahimović from getting comfortable and in good position. The likes of Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura must show physicality against the Swedish striker with good positioning in aerial balls from goal kicks and long balls from defenders.
The key for the Black & Gold in this match is not only to contain the danger of Ibrahimovic but to also prevent the new signing of attacking midfielder Cristian Pavon to connect with his teammates. Both players have been showing good chemistry between them and will surely look to continue their partnership against LAFC. The bad news for the Galaxy is that they will be missing one of their best defenders in Daniel Steres, as he will be suspended after getting a red card last weekend vs Seattle. Adama Diomande has been in excellent form as of late so look or him to take advantage of Steres’s absence and take it to the Galaxy defense.
As long as LAFC are able to display their football and remain loyal to their identity like they did midweek vs San Jose, it will allow for the players to focus more on their game than on the opponents. Carlos Vela has scored in each and every single LA derby up to date and will look to continue that streak as well as get closer to reaching the single-season scoring record. The midfield trio of Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing and Mark-Anthony Kaye will again be crucial to the success of the Black & Gold in this match due to the buildup and chemistry they have with the attackers. In addition, Lee Nguyen has been performing at a high-level so it will be a luxury to have someone with his experience and skill on the bench. Another player that has returned to the team is Mohamed El-Munir, who will surely get his opportunity for revenge against Ibrahmovic after the Galaxy striker elbowing him in the face in the previous meeting. I don’t mean that El-Munir will retaliate but he will speak with his football and hopefully a win by the end of the night.
LAFC’s new DP signing Brian Rodriguez will be available for selection on Sunday. Can you imagine the Uruguayan coming on in the second half and scoring the winning goal on his debut? Imagine it.