It’s Wednesday morning. And it’s a game day for the LA Galaxy (8-5-1; 25 pts) where they’ll attempt to beat Sporting KC (3-4-5; 14 pts), on the road, for the first time since 2007.
But there’s one big problem. The Galaxy just arrived in Kansas City as of about 10:30 a.m. PT. And that leaves them less than eight hours from their kickoff (5:30 p.m.; SpectrumSN). In total it took them 22 hours to finally arrive in their destination.
The team diverted to St. Louis last night — some 250 miles away — as strong thunderstorms and tornados ravaged the area around Children’s Mercy Park.
It’s not an ideal situation for a team that gained some good momentum after their Friday night victory on the road to Orlando City. But the Galaxy still have several advantages they’ll be taking into this game, and that’s what we’ll discuss in our three big storylines below.
TRAVEL AND REST
The Galaxy departed on Tuesday afternoon from Los Angeles International Airport onboard a commercial flight to Kansas City (MCI). But with dangerous weather, the flight ended up in St. Louis instead.
The weather has cleared and the forecast looks good — it will still be humid. But there should be no worries about playing the game tonight. But it’s going to hurt the Galaxy who probably were already at a disadvantage for having to make the two-hour and 45-minute flight.
This late arrival shouldn’t ultimately hurt the team, however. The Galaxy stayed at a hotel last night and seem to have been given a late start to the day. That’s plenty of rest even if it is more travel than they expected.
The Galaxy also last played on Friday. Sporting, on the other hand, played on Sunday afternoon. So the rest quotient, at least with regards to the number of days the team has between games leans towards the Galaxy.
Whether that translates into anything will be up for interpretation.
INJURIES AND ABSENCES:
The Galaxy traveled to Kansas City without three defenders. Diego Polenta was ruled out by Guillermo Barros Schelotto earlier this week and right-back Rolf Feltscher picked up an injury late in training on Tuesday morning before the Galaxy left for the airport. Add to those injuries the absence of 17-year-old Julian Araujo (in Poland with the US U-20’s at the U-20 World Cup), and the Galaxy are without a starting right-back.
That probably means that Dave Romney will find the field for just the second time all season. Romney – the Galaxy’s Swiss-army-knife – is capable of playing all positions on the backline. But right-back is probably his weakest position.
Tomas Hilliard-Arce also traveled with the club and could make an appearance at right-back if the Galaxy need him to as well.
But Sporting isn’t in any better shape. The dressed just five substitutes in their 3-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday and saw defender Matt Besler go down during the game.
Sporting head coach Peter Vermes even had to cancel training earlier this season because he didn’t have enough healthy bodies.
The game against Seattle was physical and seemed to be exhausting for the home team. So it will be interesting to see what flexibility Sporting will have with their lineup and whether or not they can recover with just three days between games.
Even Sporting super-star Johnny Russell might be feeling the effects of Sunday’s 90-minutes. Although his three goals on the night, surely had him feeling just fine during the game.
ZLATAN IS BACK
The Galaxy will get a well-rested Zlatan Ibrahimovic back for this game. The 37-year-old Swede is coming off a two-game suspension for a physical altercation he was involved in during the Galaxy’s loss to New York City on May 11.
But that means Ibrahimovic, who hasn’t score in the last two games he’s played, will be more than rested for the midweek test.
The two-game scoring drought is his second longest in a Galaxy kit. He went five straight games without scoring in 2017.
It will also be the first time that Ibrahimovic, and new signing Favio Alvarez, will be taking the field together. That pairing, and its success or failure, could make the difference for the Galaxy in 2019.