Los Angeles Galaxy and New York City FC are set to meet for the first time ever at the StubHub Center, but you suspect this will be the first of many classic encounters these two franchises share in Major League Soccer.
Bruce Arena’s Galaxy side are major powerhouses in American soccer, boasting an array of star names, super organisation and a winning mentality. The New York new boys certainly have the former after some exceptional recent acquisitions, but in the embryonic stage of their existence as a football club, are still striving for the latter two.
Nonetheless, it’s a game that could have major connotations on the fortunes of both sides as the playoffs creep closer into view. Here’s all the key viewing details for this enticing contest and a closer examination of both teams before the action gets underway.
Date: Sunday, August 23
Time: Noon (Local), 3 p.m. (ET), 8 p.m. (BST)
TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), ESPN (US)
Big Names Set to Clash in Los Angeles
There aren’t many games in MLS that will command quite as much attention worldwide as this one. The two cities involved are notorious for their sporting pedigree, the supporters of each will provide a stellar backdrop and the stakes are extremely high.
Galaxy go into the match as favourites. They lead the Western Conference ahead of the round of fixtures and have won their previous three games in succession. A 2-1 victory over FC Dallas was hard earned last time out, but they showcased the gnarly qualities that helped them to glory last season.
In Robbie Keane, LA have a striker who is well in form too. As we can see here courtesy of OptaJack, the veteran forward seems to be adding new traits to his game, even in the twilight of his career:
Indeed, six goals in his last four matches is a testament to Keane’s evergreen goalscoring instincts. With the likes of Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard supplying the bullets, expect the Irishman to cause plenty of problems for a New York defence that has looked a little ropey.
The visitors will fancy their chances of causing their own attacking problems, though. David Villa has been superb throughout the campaign with 14 goals to this point, but there have been some indications that he’s beginning to strike up an understanding with new signing Andrea Pirlo—this pass and finish being the most notable, per 101 Great Goals:
But for all their illustrious names, which include Villa, Pirlo, Andoni Iraola and Frank Lampard—who is a doubt for this match with an injury problem—it’s young midfielder Kwadwo Poku who has been grabbing the headlines for the debut franchise in recent outings.
The Ghanaian bagged a wonderful brace in the 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew, making it three goals and four assists in his last five matches. Here’s a snapshot of his superb performance last time out, in which there were some sumptuous link-ups with Villa and Pirlo, per MLS expert Ben Jata:
There skeleton is there for New York to become a very capable team. Younger players seem galvanised by the presence of some icons of the game and going forward, they are as good as any side in MLS. But they still lack a little bit of balance that’d see them cause major problems for the top teams.
Galaxy are certainly the real deal and, ominously for the rest of the league, seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. Don’t expect any compromise from the hosts when it comes to their attacking intentions in this one, and while that may mean they'll leak a couple of goals at the back, they’ll have enough to emerge victorious in a thriller.
Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 4-2 New York City FC
All statistics via WhoScored.com.