You wouldn’t blame the LA Galaxy if they temporarily forget they had a game on Sunday against Orlando City. Afterall, their focus on Thursday’s match, with cross-town rivals LAFC, was one of the biggest matches of the season so far, and a game that took loads of physical and emotional energy.
But with a draw secured from Exposition Park and only three days to recover, Sunday’s match against the Lions now becomes their sole focus. And it should pit two polar opposites in terms of form and direction against each other.
The Galaxy (9-7-5) will enter the match on an eight-game unbeaten streak and haven’t lost a match since the end of may (3-2 defeat vs FC Dallas). The Galaxy are 6-2-4 in their last 12 matches and have outscored their opponents 27-17 in those games including four of the teams six shutouts.
Orlando (7-13-1) on the other hand, has lost 11 of its last 12 games with their sole victory over the struggling defending champs, Toronto. They have just two wins on the road this season in 10 attempts and haven’t won a road match since April 29, where they defeated the Colorado Rapids by a score of 2-1.
Orlando is coming off Thursday evening loss to NYC in front of their home fans. A game that saw them lose center-back Shane O’Neil with a red card and get shutout for the sixth time this season.
The Galaxy will also be without an important piece as Romain Alessandrini, Thursday night’s hero, will be suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.
But perhaps the bigger issue for the Galaxy is the energy they were forced to expend in their draw on Thursday night.
“We gave it all today,” Galaxy goalscorer Ola Kamara said after the game against LAFC. “But we’re going to recover and we’re going to go back and win that game against Orlando. I think the team is unbeaten in eight games and I think we’re feeling strong. And at home, we want to dominate. And hopefully, that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”
The Galaxy may see some rotation in the midfield as Sebastian Lletget made his first appearance on the field Thursday since an ankle injury sidelined him on June 9. Lletget could get more minutes versus Orlando in an attempt to work him back into game shape.
The Galaxy should also get some reinforcements with Bradford Jamieson looking to get back onto the teamsheet. His hip strain injury seems to have passed and he could be a good addition in the place of Alessandrini.
And Emmanuel Boateng is probably dying to get back on the field with his speed and quickness.
“We lost a lot of energy in this game,” Alessandrini said on Thursday night. “We missed a lot of pass, a lot of cross. But now we play Sunday. So we have to forget this game and get the three points at home.”
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid is surely thinking of the long-term health of the team and might decide to rotate some pieces to get the most energetic team on the field. And more points are needed if they want to continue their rise up the Western Conference where they currently sit in fourth place.
But it also brings into the possibility that because Orlando looks like such a doormat, that they could overlook them. In college football, you’d almost call it a reverse trap game or perhaps a let-down game.
And to be fair, Orlando has more than one or two players who are dangerous anywhere on the field. Leading goalscorer Dom Dwyer is a difficult man to mark. And his eight goals on the season are a clear sign he’s always ready to pounce on a rebound or make a run in behind a shaky defense.
Plus, Orlando has Sacha Kljestian and Yoshimar Yotùn who are two assist machines.
But the Galaxy sound hungry for more success and the game against Orlando should give them the perfect opportunity to make that happen. And if they want to look past Orlando to focus on Colorado, who they’ll play twice in almost back-to-back matches, they’d also find a league doormat struggling to find any semblance of form.
The Galaxy are filled with big names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kamara, Jonathan and Giovani dos Santos, and Chris Pontius. The balance of talent and skill clearly lies with the home team. But that doesn’t always equal wins, as Galaxy fans have seen throughout the first half of the season.
The focus should and will be on Orlando on Sunday night. And it should mean the Galaxy can extend that unbeaten streak to nine games. But in the end, any slip in concentration will surely see the Galaxy drop points. And against this Orlando team, that’s not an acceptable result.