Ahead of this Sunday's matchup with the Philadelphia Union traveling to face the LA Galaxy, we've asked three questions of SB Nation Union blog Brotherly Game. We talk about what the Union did right against Kansas City, the suspension of Cristian Maidana, and the hole Jack McInerney has left. I also get into LA's slow start, the return of Landon Donovan, and new standout Raul Mendiola.
1) Philadelphia were able to stun Sporting Kansas City, but at week's end they were back to their old ways. What worked against SKC, and is it something Philly can get going long term?
The Union played a complete game against Sporting Kansas City. They were more aggressive and finished their chances. The defense did a great job of shutting down the attack and the midfield controlled the match as well as they had all yearIt also helps that SKC didn't play their best game and perhaps overlooked the Union because of their terrible record going into the match. I think the aggression can be replicated - the club needs some confidence, so an early goal is crucial for the Union. Also, LA can't afford to overlook this club because of their record. Just like any professional team, they are capable of winning against a team that doesn't take them seriously.
2) The Union have an international absence and a suspension in the midfield. What kind of replacements are expected on Sunday?
It looks like Maurice Edu will be back with the Union on Sunday, so that's a positive for the club. Losing Cristian Maidana on a red card suspension will hurt. Even though Chaco has been hot and cold this season, there isn't much depth behind him. Michael Lahoud is on international duty with Sierra Leone, Leo Fernandes hasn't been able to recapture the magic he had last year, Corben Bone has been a disaster, and Sebastien Le Toux has looked lost in the new offense. Look for young Zach Pfeffer to possibly get the nod over Fernandes, Le Toux, and Bone.
3) Jack McInerney is starting to find a groove with the Impact. What's the scuttlebutt on that transaction? Did the Impact come out ahead?
While no official word was given, there were rumors of Jack being a distraction both on the training field and in the locker room. Often time during matches, Jack would sulk and complain if he wasn't getting service or didn't get the touches he thought he should. In retrospect, it shouldn't have been much of a surprise to see the disgruntled striker traded away. That being said, I think Montreal came out ahead because they got a perfect player to play in the offense they are running. Jack is a great poacher, and playing with Marco di Vaio will allow Jack the opportunities that he may not have been getting here in Philadelphia. The Union got a decent player in Andrew Wenger, but a player who so far hasn't been the target forward that is needed in a successful 4-3-3 (really a 4-5-1). That's not to say Wenger won't adapt over time, but it hasn't happened yet.
MacMath; Fabinho, Berry, Williams, Gaddis; Okugo, Pfeffer, Edu, Noguiera, Cruz; Wenger
1.) The LA Galaxy we see now doesn't seem as formidable as the Galaxy teams of the past. Is LA a team on the decline, or has it just had a rough time lately?
It's been hard for LA to establish a rhythm, with two planned be weeks before they added a third to make room for Champions League play. Couple that with a slew of unexpected injuries to begin the year, and then national team duty for Donovan and Gonzalez, it's hard to even say who the 2014 LA Galaxy are yet.
On points per match, after spending a match-in-hand on a win Wednesday night, the Galaxy are actually fourth in the West on points-per-game. That's not exactly the juggernaut that LA has been in recent history, but it's not quite the crisis that folk are looking for.
The team is certainly getting older. Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are a core that have been operating at the highest level for more than a decade and are certainly prone to wear and tear. Omar Gonzalez seems to be thinking about every one of his myriad of possibilities at all times. It's less decline then the quiet moments after success.
2.) What changes are we likely to see from Bruce Arena due to the World Cup call-ups as well as the mid-week fixture?
Well Landon Donovan being cut from USMNT camp is the bombshell that keeps on giving. As of writing this, the beat in Los Angeles doesn't know when Donovan is scheduled to arrive back in LA. However, it feels safe to assume that if Donovan was training for a friendly on Tuesday, he should be good to go for an MLS match on Sunday.
Arena went back to his 4-4-2 on Wednesday, but Donovan's return could mean going back to a diamond with Donovan as a CAM or a forward. Another change I would advocate for is replacing Stefan Ishizaki with Robbie Rogers. Ishi looked tired on Wednesday, and it's past time to see if Rogers can be a contributor for LA in 2014. If I were Arena I'd also consider swapping out Dan Gargan for Oscar Sorto, for similar reasons.
3.) Who is a Galaxy player that flies under the radar that Philadelphia should look out for?
Arena is starting to roll out the youngsters again, so if you see a player name Raul Mendiola come into the match he's a guy to watch. He's been courted heavily during his youth career, and has demanded a spot on the senior squad with his play despite the existence of LA Galaxy II. Think about that for a moment. AEG created a whole different team in a different league just so youth players wouldn't be rushed into the senior squad, and Mendiola broke that model in about two months.
Starting XI: Penedo; DeLaGarza, Meyer, Opare, Gargan; Rogers, Juninho, Ishizaki, Zardes; Donovan, Keane