HARRISON, N.J. — LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to the Sunday afternoon’s match with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. The Galaxy will look to make it two wins in a row when the take on the Eastern Conference leading Red Bulls in the final game of their nine-day, three-game road trip.
THE BATTLE OF THE TITANS
Any time teams from Los Angeles and New York meet on the field in any sport, the stakes are raised and the biggest stars shine brightest. That is expected to be the case again on Sunday afternoon as players like Landon Donovan, Tim Cahill, Robbie Keane, Dax McCarty and the two Juninho’s take the field. But the match up that may decide the tilt is between LA’s Omar Gonzalez and New York striker Thierry Henry.
Gonzalez and whomever lines up beside him in the LA defense—A.J. DeLaGarza or Tommy Meyer are expected to contend for that spot—must handle Henry, who is not only one of the greatest strikers to ever play in MLS, but arguably, one of the world’s best finishers of all time. Clinical in front of goal, Henry has already scored five goals in the 2013 season including two in his last appearance on May 8 in New York’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact. Henry will be aided by the presence of his partner up top Fabian Espindola, who has given the Galaxy plenty of fits over the years scoring five times and adding three assists against LA in the regular season during his time with Real Salt Lake.
To stop New York’s crafty forward duo, Gonzalez and the Galaxy defense must play smart and prevent Henry or Espindola from breaching the defense with their well-timed runs. If LA can keep the pair, as well as all of New York’s other weapons, from contributing than the Galaxy will have a chance for three points.
CAN ROBBIE KEANE AND LANDON DONOVAN ENJOY ANOTHER STRONG GAME?
The partnership between Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane was vital to the LA Galaxy’s 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday and LA will need a similar performance to get past New York on Sunday.
Against the Union, the pair worked splendidly together during the LA’s three-goal second half as Donovan was pushed up top alongside Keane with the Galaxy looking for an attacking edge. The pair aptly provided that edge and then some, combining for two goals and three assists in the game’s final 20 minutes, turning a 1-1 scoreline into a 4-1 victory.
A similar showing against the Red Bulls on Sunday could produce a similar result for the Galaxy. During New York’s recent unbeaten run (they are 4-0-1 in their last five games), New York center back Markus Holgersson has formed an effective partnership, with either Heath Pearce or Jamison Olave, both of who have been paired with the big Swede of late. However, the lack of consistency in the heart of New York’s defense has caused problems that have led to goals.
In an effort to exploit these defensive lapses, LA head coach Bruce Arena may choose to start Donovan and Keane together up front, in an attempt to provide more looks at goal for the pair. Should Donovan start up top alongside Keane, it will allow Arena to provide more minutes to in-form right midfielder Hector Jimenez, who has a goal and an assist in his last three appearances with the first team.
The key to a victory for the LA Galaxy against the New York Red Bulls is a simple yet complex one—start fast.
Fast starts have been vital to the Galaxy’s success in 2013 as the club is currently a perfect 5-0-2 when scoring the first goal. Meanwhile, they’re a winless 0-3-0 when conceding the first goal. Against an in-form Red Bulls side that is unbeaten since a home loss to Sporting Kansas City on April 17, setting a tempo early will be vital as LA must attempt to frustrate a confident New York team.
Expect the Galaxy to begin the match aggressively as Brazilian midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas look to force turnovers while forwards Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan as well as LA’s other attackers try to crack a hole in New York’s defense.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com