May wasn’t kind to the LA Galaxy. The club played six total games – with four of those on the road including two cross-country trips – and lost four times in the process.
But their last two games, both road-wins, may have them eyeing June, and their first game this Sunday against the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m. PT; SpectrumSN), a bit differently.
There’s clear momentum on the Galaxy’s (9-5-1; 28 pts) side. And it will be up to them to ride this final game, before the 20-day international break takes place, all the way to the finish.
The Revolution (3-8-4; 13 pts), now under the control of new Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena, are also looking for a change before the break. They’ve won just once in the last seven games, sit only two spots from the bottom of the league, and have the worst goal differential (-17), and the second most goals allowed (32 goals) in Major League Soccer.
And you’d have to go back to September of 2018, and a 1-0 win over NYCFC, to find the last three points they earned away from Gillette Stadium. That means in their previous 24 road games the Revolution have won just twice – they are 0-4-3 on the road in 2019 for three points.
But with Arena on the sidelines for the first time since taking over the head coaching position, expect New England to get the “Bruce bump” from a man who coached the Galaxy from 2008 to 2016 and ushered the club to the most successful timeframe in its history. Arena departed with three MLS Cups, two MLS Supporters’ Shield’s, and an MLS record of 125-70-79.
New England will also be without starting goalkeeper Matt Turner who picked up a red card in last weekend’s draw with DC United. Either Cody Cropper, who hasn’t even been included in the team sheet the last couple of games or Brad Knighton will need to take over. Neither of them is listed on any injury report, but the Revolution didn’t have a backup listed on their roster after Turner was ejected.
To counter the bump, the Galaxy will want to rely on their stout starting defense. It’s a defense who hasn’t given up a goal in the last 188 minutes and who has seen the Galaxy not only win their last two games but hold opponents scoreless as well.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned from his two-game suspension where he had a goal, and an assist and Favio Alvarez scored his first goal for the Galaxy on Wednesday night as well.
The Galaxy midfield was stiffened by Perry Kitchen’s first start of the season, and his pairing with Jonathan dos Santos allowed the Galaxy to be defensively tough and Kitchen’s two assists on the night saw what a counter-attacking Galaxy team could do.
Diego Polenta and Rolf Feltscher both missed out on the Wednesday night match with injuries with Guillermo Barros Schelotto expecting Polenta to be back for Sunday’s game. Feltscher, who suffered a leg strain just before the Galaxy started their long journey to Kanas City, won’t play as he continued his rehab and was inside during training on Friday.
Ibrahimovic was also inside during training on Friday but is expected to play.
The Galaxy, playing their 16th game of the season, have a genuine opportunity to crest 30 points not even halfway through the season. It took them 20 games to get past that mark in 2018, and 33 games in 2017.
Schelotto criticized himself after the loss to Columbus when he didn’t rotate tired legs, and he may have that same tough decision again against New England.
Both Emmanuel Boateng and Chris Pontius made late-game substitute appearances against Sporting and could be up for more significant roles against the Revolution, but Schelotto will have to weigh those impacts to the overall gameplan and the health of the club.
Galaxy midfielder Joe Corona started on the bench on Wednesday night and entered with the upper part of his back and neck taped. It didn’t seem to bother him during the game.
This is the last chance the Galaxy will have to play a regular season game until June 22. A win here could carry the club through that break with a lot of positives, and by sitting second in the league, and in the conference, they’re going to be feeling pretty good about themselves.