Galaxy faces New England in playoff push

Los Angeles Galaxy striker, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, celebrates his goal at on April 25, 2021 as the Galaxy faces New England next

PREVIEW – It was a noteworthy week in Los Angeles. The LA Galaxy faces New England on Sunday at 5 p.m. in a reunion with former players, Omar González, A.J. DeLaGarza, and Ema Boateng, plus legendary former coach Bruce Arena. They’ll do so amidst the backdrop of new signings. With how well Arena and the Revs know the Galaxy, will LA be able to get points on the road, extend their unbeaten run, and climb back above the playoff line?

Galaxy faces New England in playoff push

Los Angeles Galaxy

The Galaxy will enter the match day 27 fixtures outside the playoff line in eighth place (34 points) thanks to Portland’s 2-1 win over Seattle. By match time on Sunday, they could have fallen even further down the table, depending on results elsewhere in MLS.

With the Western Conference standings being so tight, only six points separate sixth through 11th place. One or two well-timed wins could catapult the Galaxy up the standings to give them some breathing room. And with two games in hand, this could be the Galaxy’s golden opportunity to assure itself a playoff berth.

Uruguayan Grit

The Galaxy should get an instant defensive boost from new signing Martin Cáceres. The veteran Uruguayan International (112 caps, 3 World Cups) signed with LA through the end of the season and will have an option for next year. The ex-Barcelona and Juventus man’s vast European experience, where he played over 350 club matches during a 15-year professional career, should give the “emotional” back line some steel. He’ll be expected to anchor a defense that’s given up 37 goals so far this year.

Head Coach Greg Vanney praised the defender’s versatility and his ability to play in various positions and systems in defense. Vanney claims the Galaxy needed someone like Cáceres, “a leadership guy at the back with experience and presence and know-how to help to solidify our group and maybe bring a little bit more confidence to each guy around him.”

Strike Force

The Galaxy hasn’t been great on the road recently. They’ve lost four consecutive away matches after losing only two of their first seven. So, Vanney will need his strikers sharp to get three points away in New England.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has scored in three straight games, bagging four goals and an assist in that span. Dejan Joveljić, for his part, has tallied at least one goal or one assist in eight consecutive matches played at home (9 goals, 3 assists). Joveljić will want to prove he can score away from home as well, especially as the season winds down and Vanney looks to who he can trust.

Kevin Cabral and Samuel Grandsir will be hoping for another breakout game like the one they both enjoyed against Vancouver. While, it will be interesting to see whether Vanney starts the Galaxy’s other recent arrival, Riqui Puig, in the CAM spot just behind the attack.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

The Galaxy has been terrible on the road, while New England is unbeaten in nine straight home matches, last losing at Gillette Stadium on April 2.

But if recent matches between the two have shown anything; there will be goals. The last four meetings in New England have featured at least four goals, with 21 scored for an average of 5.3 per game.

The Galaxy will want to focus on stopping the Rev’s Gustavo Bou. The Argentine has seven goals for the Revs, and the opportunistic striker could cause the Galaxy defense problems. La Pantera’s combination play with midfielder Carles Gil will be the catalyst for the New England attack. Gil, the 2021 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player, has 13 assists already this season, along with five goals.

The recent signing of his brother, Nacho, should spur the dynamic playmaker further forward.

Prediction as the Galaxy faces New England:

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The last time these two teams played each other in MLS action over three years ago, they were both mired in mediocrity. Bruce Arena had just inherited a last-placed Revs team and took them on the road to beat the Galaxy 2-1 two months later. Since then, New England has won the Supporters Shield, while Los Angeles has missed the playoffs both seasons.

Based on the form, this one looks easy. The Galaxy has been horrible on the road recently, while New England can’t lose at home. But nothing is ever predictable with this Galaxy team. The recent arrivals of Puig and Cáceres, should visa issues permit the latter to play, will lift LA, and let’s face it, they’re due for a road win.

Even a tie would be massive, but look for the Galaxy to put in their best away performance in a while and steal a win from their old boss on Sunday.