The path is set, as the LA Galaxy are set to kick off the MLS is Back Tournament group stage in Orlando in July. Now that we know who they will play in the group stage, let’s take a look at those opponents’ form from the start of the season, before the coronavirus suspended the season.
The headlining opponent for the Galaxy is their crosstown rivals, it’s true, we’re having an El Trafico in Orlando.
But how have LAFC played so far this year? Unlike most teams, they’ve played more games than most teams, since they were in the Concacaf Champions League (which remains suspended), losing the first game against Club Leon 2-0 on the road before coming back to win 3-0 in the return leg to advance.
In MLS, LAFC won 1-0 on opening day against expansion team Inter Miami at home, before drawing the Philadelphia Union 3-3 at home in Week 2.
In the win over Inter Miami, Carlos Vela scored the winner with a bloop chip that went just inside the crossbar just before halftime. The performance was professional, if a bit ragged, with LAFC on short rest from CCL.
The next game showed more vulnerability, however. Three times, the Union took the lead at LAFC’s stadium, and three times, LAFC needed to claw back and get an equalizer. Vela and Diego Rossi scored in that game, as well as defender Eddie Segura.
LAFC are the strongest team in the group on paper for the Galaxy to contend with, but on paper is a big caveat. Vela’s participation isn’t totally assured yet, although he has been training so he’ll probably play, but if he’s out, LAFC’s prospects would seemingly go down a lot.
All-time record vs. LAFC: 2W-0L-3D in regular season
One of the quirks of the draw is that the Dynamo and the Galaxy already have played this year. They met in the season opener, in Houston, finishing in a 1-1 draw. Cristian Pavon hit a cracker in the first half to put the Galaxy ahead, but Houston came back in the second half and Mauro Manotas grabbed an equalizer to split the points.
The next week, the Dynamo got smashed, as Sporting Kansas City laid a 4-0 rout on them in Kansas City. Alan Pulido, Roger Espinoza, Gadi Kinda and Khiry Shelton scored Sporting’s goals, and Houston couldn’t get in gear against one of the hottest teams to start the season.
The Dynamo of course have a new coach this year in Tab Ramos, and it will be interesting to see if they look better or different in the next meeting against LA. I suspect it will probably be pretty similar to the first meeting, but you never know — nobody really knows with this restart tournament business, in a bubble.
All-time record vs. Houston: 11W-12L-8D in regular season
It’s not fair to say the Timbers are truly a proper rival of the Galaxy, as both teams have at least two teams they are far more...rivalrous(?) with, but there have been some pretty, pretty feisty encounters in recent times.
The Timbers flopped in their opening match, a 3-1 loss at home to Minnesota United. Kevin Molino scored a brace and Luis Amarilla scored on his debut for Minnesota, with only Diego Valeri’s penalty canceling out Molino’s first on the night.
The result was much better in the second game, a 1-0 win, also at home, over expansion side Nashville SC. Valeri had the only goal in that one, a gorgeous twisting half-volley.
The Timbers like to sit deep and make a key play or two to beat teams, and they are absolutely going to that in this short tournament, where conservative play is not only a logical idea, it’s probably a no-brainer. I would expect the Galaxy’s game against Portland to be a snoozer, but hey, you never know.
All-time record against Timbers: 9W-7L-6D in the regular season.
I just realized the only wins in MLS play any of the four teams in this group have so far this year came against expansion teams. Does that make the group anyone’s to win? Well yes, I’ve been trying to say that all along, but doubly so with that factoid in mind!
What do you think? How are you scoping out the odds for the Galaxy in this group? Let’s chat in the comments below.