The LA Galaxy travel to the Big Apple this week to play NYCFC this Saturday, August 20, at 12:00 p.m. (PDT), in a game that promises to include, if not sparking soccer, then at least a heaping dose of star-power. For neutrals interested in basking in the limelight of MLS’ biggest names, this East Coast/West Coast clash could see the likes of Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Nigel de Jong, Giovani dos Santos and Robbie Keane take the postage-stamp sized field that is Yankee Stadium. League officials will be hoping for a glittering performance from its biggest stars and analysis will try to put fresh spin on the obvious narratives: NYC v. LA, Lampard v. Gerrard and Newcomer v. Standard-Bearer.
Though last year’s fixture between these two marquis franchises led to the LA Galaxy thrashing NYCFC 5-1 (Yours Truly recapped last year’s game here), it is highly improbable that this week’s game will yield so convincing a victory for the LA Galaxy. NYCFC was in the nascent stages of putting its team together last year and was without the services of Lampard and Pirlo whereas the LA Galaxy was clicking on all cylinders. Turnabout being fair play, NYCFC may see this weekend’s game as an opportunity to dish out some of the humiliation LA delivered during last year’s clash.
For while the LA Galaxy have technically gone nine league games without a loss, five of those nine games were draws, and there does seem to be something amiss in the LA Galaxy’s offense. Whether it is because of injuries, absences, suspensions, formation changes, players being put in the wrong position or players simply failing to play up to their potential, the LA Galaxy are not generating goals.
Specifically, though the Galaxy are creating chances, they are not finishing them. The two most clinical finishers on LA’s squad are Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos – yet neither player has produced a flurry of goals for their team this year. Fans wonder whether Robbie Keane’s age has finally caught up with him and speculate that Giovani dos Santos may be more hype than substance.
Yet given the skills of each of its component parts, one cannot help but surmise that if the LA Galaxy could cohere and find a way to put together a collective performance, it would be one of the most dangerous and well-balanced teams in MLS. Hopefully, the team can summon a sterling performance on Saturday, as NYCFC no doubt relishes the prospect of beating MLS’ most successful team in New York City.
NYCFC will be without head coach Patrick Vieira and defender Maxime Chanot for Saturday’s game but otherwise will have its designated players available. Other than Robbie Keane (orbital socket fracture), Brian Rowe (head injury), Robbie Rogers (recovering from surgery) and Jeff Larentowicz (who was suspended following last week’s game against Colorado), LA should have a full squad. And for those still interested in the Lampard/Gerrard debate, both Lions are currently in good form: Lampard has scored nine goals for NYCFC this season and Gerrard has scored three goals and eleven assists in 2016, which ties him for the second most assists in MLS (along with Sebastian Giovinco).