Only two teams have a stake in most matches. But for tomorrow’s game between the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, a third team is heavily invested — because tomorrow, LA has a chance to finally unseat the Seattle Sounders from their cozy seat atop the standings.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. The Galaxy face a formidable opponent, as the Red Bulls have a veritable goal-scoring machine in Bradley Wright-Phillips. New York’s lone striker is top of the league in goals scored, with an astounding 24 this season.
Stats nerds will (rightly) point out that although Wright-Phillips finishes plenty, his assists are near to nil. Still, given the chance, Wright-Phillips regularly makes opponents pay. Don’t believe me? He humbled Seattle in 29 seconds when their defense made the mistake of leaving him unmarked for just a moment.
But the Galaxy are the more consistent team. Incredibly consistent, lately — Bruce Arena’s side hasn’t lost in 8 games. Broadly, their success is due to the sheer number of threats they can put on the field at a time.
Between Robbie Keane’s dependable goals, Gyasi Zardes’ transition into a striker with a great final touch, Landon Donovan’s off-the-charts chance creation, and now the addition of Alan Gordon, whose return to LA made an immediate impact on the scoreline — the Galaxy are a serious handful to defend.
On Sunday, LA’s success will hinge on whether or not they can avoid the sort of defensive meltdowns that the Red Bulls excel at exploiting. But if they can do that – if they can keep the Wright-Phillips locked down – there’s no reason the Galaxy shouldn’t take all three points.
And then finally, finally, LA will once again be on top.