The home opener is nearly here, as 27,000 or so are expected to show up to the LA Galaxy’s first game of the 2020 season at Dignity Health Sports Park to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Ahead of the opener, let’s go over three things to watch in the first home game.
Can the attack get on track?
The Galaxy did have a shot on target advantage over the Houston Dynamo, four to two, but it certainly didn’t feel like it, right? In part it’s because Chicharito never had a good chance in his debut, and aside from the Galaxy’s lone goal, the shots were largely tame.
I took a deep look at the Galaxy’s playing style on Thursday and the likely need to evolve to have some new options this year, so I won’t belabor that point, but at home, against a team expected to struggle this year in Vancouver, you have to expect the Galaxy will look better this week in attack. If not, it could be another frustrating 90 minutes, for the team and supporters alike.
Can the defense avoid a slip-up?
Yes, the defense only allowed one goal, on the road, last week and LA earned a point so it wasn’t all bad. But in a game where the Galaxy could have taken a win, a momentary breakdown cost them and they conceded a goal that cost them two points.
LA got pulled to their right side, then a simple pass wide-ish on the left to Houston defender Zarek Valentin, led to a good if also simple pass in the channel to Mauro Manotas making a terrific run in the box. Once Manotas had the ball, he was fastest to finish it.
It’s worth noting that Nick DePuy nearly had the timely block on Manotas — I really didn’t notice how close he was to getting the emergency stop until I rewatched it — but that’s how fine the margins are. Can they put up a tougher test against a Vancouver side that remade their attack in the offseason? Until the defense strings together a good run of performances, that will be a persistent question.
How will the atmosphere be?
Saturday’s game could be a full sellout, which would be pretty cool on a number of levels, and with it being the first introduction of the reworked Victoria Block in a competitive match, there’s plenty to be excited about.
Home openers tend to have a lot of energy around them, but Saturday night games in particular can be fairly sleepy in terms of atmosphere in recent years for the Galaxy. Chicharito’s arrival means demand for tickets should be up, and hopefully those who arrive bring the noise, literally. But with efforts to improve the match atmosphere from the stands, how will it pay off on Saturday? Will it set things on a positive course for the season? Here’s hoping it’s a good start on that front.
What are you thinking about ahead of the home opener? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!