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LA Galaxy’s history vs. Nashville SC

It’s short, and so far so good.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Nashville SC Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy are back in the MLS playoffs, and on Saturday, they are back in the position of hosting a postseason game, when they take on Nashville SC for a place in the Western Conference semifinals.

As this is Nashville’s first season in the West, the history between these teams is short, but here’s a rundown of what’s come before between the teams.

All-time series: Galaxy lead 1W-0L-1D

Yes, the teams have only played competitive games twice, both this year in league play. The Galaxy got a result in each. Having said that, the composite goal difference in +1 to the Galaxy, and even if LA got points from both matches, they were finely poised for nearly 90 minutes (or more) both times.

Apr. 24: Galaxy 1, Nashville 0

This game was a tense affair, one you could say resembles a playoff atmosphere? LA featured one starter (Rayan Raveloson) who is no longer on the team and Greg Vanney rotated a bit, so I’d say that game had 4-ish starters who will not be starting in the playoffs on Saturday.

The difference came from the bench, when Dejan Joveljić was unleashed and hit the game-winner in the 86th minute. You probably remember this for his celebration, where he ran to the LA Riot Squad and celebrated in the stands with them.

Again, given the game was so tight, the Galaxy finding a way to win, somehow, is a good omen for the postseason, if they can summon that kind of mentality and effort when it matters.

Sept. 10: Nashville 1, Galaxy 1

In the away fixture, it was a tale of penalties, made and missed. A Derrick Williams handball led to the opening goal, converted by likely MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar from the spot.

And then Chicharito stepped up to take a penalty early in the 2nd half, looking to redeem himself after a panenka attempt in the previous game went horribly awry. This time, he would smash the PK and...

Ah well, nevertheless.

But, that was not the end of penalties in this game! Walker Zimmerman handled the ball in the box deep in stoppage time and the wonderkid Riqui Puig stepped up with the game on the line.

I would say he made no mistake but that’s no quite true. He put enough power and height on the shot that Joe Willis could not fully save it and whew, the Galaxy flew back to California with a point for their troubles.

Broad takeaways

First, I think chances will be at a premium on both sides of the ball. While I would prefer to see the Galaxy shooting a lot, as that would indicate they are dictating the game, given the raised stakes I think both teams will be cautious and make sure they are doing their job in defense and so this probably won’t be a shootout. In fact, it may take a (penalty) shootout to decide it.

I would say penalties in the game itself could play a role in this match, but that’s hard to predict considering each game’s different. Some games, you see three penalties called and some games, there are none. Teams cannot count on having a penalty called in their favor in a game, although I think the Galaxy have been good at earning penalties this season, and that ability to draw fouls in the box is certainly useful.

And while Mukhtar scored against the Galaxy, the fact that Nashville did not score from the run of play is a good sign that the Galaxy know how to defend this team. Nashville mainly score two ways: On the counter and on set pieces. I think corner kick and free kick defense has to be a concern, but LA have done well so far this season in limiting fast break chances for Nashville. If they manage a good defensive performance on Saturday, the Galaxy will have every chance of winning the game and advancing to the next round. We shall see.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.