Preview: LA Galaxy (a).
When? Saturday March 19, 12:30 p.m. PT, 3:30 p.m. ET and 7:30 p.m. GMT.
Where? Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles, CA.
How can I catch the action? The game is being broadcast on Univision and TUDN for residents of North America, as well as on Twitter. For us UK folk the game is being broadcast on FreeSports (FreeView channel 64) and via the FreeSports app.
A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away... We played the LA Galaxy. Wow, it's been a minute, huh? Last time Orlando City faced off against La La Land's OGs, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick and PC started at left-back for the Lions. It was that long ago. A lot has changed since then. Thankfully.
This is a really exciting game, and not just in terms of the match itself. But, isn't it lovely to not be playing Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale or Toronto again? No disrespect to those teams... Wait, no. No disrespect to Toronto. That's better.
After the disappointment of the FC Cincinnati game, this is (weirdly) the perfect game for Oscar Pareja's side. It's probably a game where we aren't expected to get too much from, but that might just suit us. The Galaxy are a good footballing side too, who tend to allow space, so we should be able to get the ball down and play a little. I can't wait.
The Galaxy's Style
This is an interesting Galaxy team. I watched their game in Seattle recently; it was honestly one of the most enjoyable MLS games I've seen in a while. The Galaxy showcased their attacking talent and displayed why they have the 3rd best XG rating in MLS at 1.04 (figure 1). Their attacking statistics, even at this early stage of the season, are impressive; 5 shots on target per game (#5 in MLS), 8 big chances created per game (#6) and 1.3 goals per game (#9).
This is a team that likes to get the ball forward at every opportunity. They're also a team that looks to dominate the ball, by utilising a high defensive line (figure 2) and trying to suffocate teams in their own half. They're a team that like their full-backs to push on, as Raheem Edwards and Julian Araujo did in Seattle. The entire back-line is encouraged to get on the ball and provide a springboard for attacks.
The obvious danger with this tactic is that they tend to leave a lot of space in behind. If you look at the still in figure 3 you'll see what I mean. Whilst the shape of the Galaxy's line is pretty good, and it's not ridiculously high, it's high enough to leave a tangible amount of space for the Seattle attackers to dart into.
Figure 1 shows the leading MLS XG ratings.
Figure 2 shows the heatmap for LA Galaxy's entire back 4 against Seattle, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows a game still from the first half of the Galaxy's game against Seattle.
The main advantage of utilising this high line, is it allows them to dominate possession in their opponents' half; as was the case in Seattle (figures 4 & 5). It'll be interesting to see if they still adopt this approach against Orlando, a team that is currently ranked 9th in MLS for forced turnovers in the opposing half (56 on the season so far). If Orlando can win the ball in the Galaxy's defensive third they could profit on that space in behind their back-line.
Figure 4 shows some of the Galaxy's possession statistics from the game in Seattle, whole 90.
Figure 5 shows some of the Galaxy's (🔵) possession statistics from the game in Seattle, whole 90.
The Galaxy are set to be without Adam Saldaña and Jorge Villafaña through injury.
Orlando City, on the other hand, are without Andres Perea, who has a lower leg injury. This section will be updated as more news becomes available.
Possible starting XI
I can see the Galaxy staying with a fairly settled XI. They performed well in Seattle and with them being at home, I can see them going unchanged in their favoured 4-4-2 formation:
The former Manchester United and Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker is one of the best finishers in MLS. The Mexican has 2 goals on the season already, with a conversion rate of 20%. Orlando will have to keep close tabs on him if they hope to escape California with a positive result.
The Galaxy have started the season reasonably well with consecutive victories over NYCFC and Charlotte, before that 3-2 reversal in Seattle. The Galaxy are 2-1-0 and currently lie 5th in the west.
Orlando have had something of a mixed bag so far, going 1-1-1 on the season following the defeat to Cincinnati. Orlando currently lie 8th in the east.
Game stills courtesy of mlssoccer.com
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com