The LA Galaxy (2-5-2) are starting a key four-game road trip, this weekend, by traveling across the country to take on the New York Red Bulls (5-5-1) on Sunday at 3 PM PST (TV: FS1, Nationally Televised).
After getting out to their slowest start in the last 10 years, the Galaxy are in desperate need of points. But with four games on the road – two of those games on the east coast where they haven’t won since 2o13 (a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Union) – getting any significant movement up the table would be hopeful at best.
- GAME INFO: New York Red Bulls (5-5-1) vs LA Galaxy (2-5-2)
- LOCATION: Red Bull Arena
- TIME: 3:00 PM Pacific Time / 6:00 PM Eastern Time
- TV: Nationally Televised, FS1
But coming off a come-from-behind draw with the Chicago Fire over the weekend, the Galaxy seem to have a positive attitude toward the challenge at hand and are looking to prove that they’re more of a team now than they’ve ever been. This comes on the heels of Galaxy head coach, Curt Onalfo, choosing to bench captain Jelle Van Damme in the first half, and Jermaine Jones picking up an MCL sprain.
The Galaxy will take on a Red Bulls team that is coming off of two straight road losses, all in the same week. They were blanked by Sporting KC midweek, 2-0 and then gave up three goals and a C.J. Sapong hat trick to the Philadelphia Union – who got their first win of 2017. The Red Bulls were outscored 5-0 in those two road games but will limp back to their home stadium where they haven’t lost a game in 2017 (4-0-1).
The Red Bulls are fifth in the Eastern Conference but just six points off the top spot and the Supporters Shield race. The Eastern Conference is highly competitive this year and most teams are still within striking distance of league leaders Toronto FC (22 points, 11 games).
Since beating the Union in 2013, the Galaxy have gone seven games without an east coast win and haven’t taken a game from the Red Bulls since a 2014 visit at StubHub Center (4-0). But ominously, the Galaxy haven’t won at Red Bull Arena since 2010 – a 1-0 victory on August 14th that saw Edson Buddle score his league leading 13th goal of the season. Buddle would end the season with 17 goals and the LA Galaxy would finish atop the league as Supporter Shield winners but get knocked out of the playoffs by FC Dallas.
LA are 16-18-8 all-time and 7-12-3 when playing on the road against the Red Bulls. One of the few teams in the league who holds a winning record over the Galaxy. The Red Bulls have an advantage at home scoring 35 goals against the Galaxy while allowing 28. But overall in the series, the Galaxy have a single goal advantage having scored 60 goals, and allowing 59.
The Galaxy enters this game on a four-game winless streak. Their last win came against a 10-man Montreal team and the Galaxy, so far in 2017, have yet to beat a team that wasn’t reduced to 10-men (Montreal Impact, Real Salt Lake). In 2017, on the road, the Galaxy are 1-2-0 and have been outscored five goals to seven. Their only win was a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Real Salt Lake.
They have allowed the first goal in seven of their first nine games and have a record of 1-5-1 in those games. The defense has allowed 15 goals this season which puts them tied for 18th in the league in that category. The offense, where the Galaxy are still without a goal from a striker in the run of play this year, has scored 10 goals and ranks 19th overall in the league.
The Red Bulls are in a similar situation to the Galaxy. They’ve given up 15 goals – the same as LA – and scored just 11 goals – one better than the Galaxy.
Their biggest question mark seems to be the defense with many players be rotated through a center back spot that has yet to find a happy owner. And even Luis Robles, the Red Bull Goalkeeper can’t keep balls from finding the back of the net.
It’s also surprising to see the Red Bull offense struggle with names like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan at the forefront of the attack. One name you won’t see on Sunday is rising star Tyler Adams who has been released to the U-20 fitness training camp ahead of the U-20 World Cup. His likely replacement is Sean Davis.
The Red Bulls are looking to get back on track and are 3-3-0 in their last six games.
But who will the Galaxy play? With questions marks around Van Damme, Onalfo claims his inclusion in this lineup is “day to day,” could Dave Romney get the start on the back line? Or will Onalfo and Van Damme prove they’ve left the past behind them and start on a path forward?
As we’ve said on our most recent podcasts, the Galaxy are far from a divided team in the locker room. Something that would have been unfathomable to say after their big loss to Seattle weeks earlier. But has the team come together enough to put up a realistic fight against a team that has been solid at home?
I would expect a repeated starting lineup from last game with a change in midfield for the injured Jones. Baggio Husidic and João Pedro should stake their claim to the middle of the park while Romain Alessandrini and Emmanuel Boateng work the flanks. Gyasi Zardes will be positioned up top with Giovani dos Santos playing underneath him in the creative role. Van Damme will pair next to Daniel Steres, while Bradley Diallo and Ashley Cole hold down the outside back positions. And once again, it will be Brian Rowe in goal.
With Onalfo’s once-tenuous hold on the head coaching job looking just a tad more secure, it will be interesting to see if the Galaxy can find a way forward against a talented Red Bull team. But if things go sideways again for the Galaxy, don’t expect the front office — who need a shakeup of their own — to be slow in acting.