The red hot Philadelphia Union take on the also red hot Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium. This is the last game in the Union’s three game home stand in which the team has earned four points out of six. The Union have now extended their home point winning streak to six games, but this game will be the Union’s most difficult home game since.
The Galaxy have not lost since the second week of the season, to a deceptively good Colorado Rapids squad. Towards the beginning of the season, Robbie Keane suffered a leg injury and needed to miss a couple games. Then rose a puzzling question, “Can the Galaxy produce without their main striker?” The answer, was absolutely yes.
Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos stepped up and delivered four goals in a five game span. Along with Dos Santos, U.S. International Gyasi Zardes netted two goals as well. It wasn’t a matter of can they win without Robbie Keane, it was more about whether or not their offensive production could keep up. The Galaxy’s roster is solid all around. The midfield core includes Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who despite picking up an injury two weeks ago may start on Wednesday, which will make English Premier League fans very excited. Up and coming star Sebastian Lleget and Emmanuel Boateng also star in the midfield. Jeff Larentowicz and Baggio Husidic also can contribute, with the defense being solid all year, led by Belgian center back Jelle Van Damme and English left back Ashley Cole. They have only given up ten goals in nine games so far. This efficiency is why the Galaxy have been the best team this year and in years past, and this is the first year since 2011 in which the Union have produced success this early. So how can the Union escape Wednesday with at least a point?
The Union need to keep up the momentum. After earning the most points at this point of the season in Union history, the team needs to recognize that it can not afford a bad game, especially against a team like the Galaxy. Last time the two met, the Galaxy handled the Union 5-1 in Carson, CA. Matter of fact, since 2013, the lightest loss they have had against the Galaxy was 4-1…….twice. The other game was 5-1. The Union have not beaten the Galaxy since 2012 and that was off a 90th minute game winning goal from Michael Farfan. So it goes without saying that this will be the toughest game of the season so far, even if it is a home game.
Second is to not get stuck playing chase around. The Union have adapted a counter attack playing style that has had success. Playing that kind of style kind of means that you sacrifice some possession. With the Union, you have a solid midfield in Vincent Nogueira and Tranquillo Barnetta who possess tremendous field vision and passing abilities. On top of that, you now have C.J. Sapong and Chris Pontius as reliable attackers inside the box. But the problem is, the Galaxy apply that same strategy. It was shown this past Saturday against the New England Revolution. Despite scoring five goals in a 4-2 beat down, possession was still 50-50 even. Their tie with the Portland Timbers in a 1-1 game gave them 60% of the possession. Their counter attacking is what gets them their goals. The Union shouldn’t shy away from the counter attack, but rather play with a little more caution and safer on the ball because they will make you pay if the ball is dispossessed
Lastly, the defence can only bend and not break. The Union have two rookies(Yaro and Rosenberry), a sophomore(Marquez) and a veteran(Gaddis or Fabinho) projected to start with Andre Blake between the posts. That’s a very young defence. When you look at the trio of Keane, Zardes, and Dos Santos, that’s a three headed monster. Keegan Rosenberry will need to get back at all times when he joins in the attack and Fabinho must play his best game so far in a Union shirt because he had not been the most efficient defender. Expect them to play a little closer towards net, almost entering “parking the bus” territory.