CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to the LA Galaxy’s match vs. Sporting Kansas City…
BREAK THE SPORTING DEFENSE
Sporting Kansas City arrive at The Home Depot Center on a tear defensively, in the midst of a five-game shutout streak spanning 512 minutes, good for the seventh best in MLS history.
In their bid to snap Sporting’s shutout streak and break their recent four game winless streak, LA expect to have a full squad available for selection against Kansas City. This includes regulars Robbie Keane (left ankle), Todd Dunivant (left hamstring), and Sean Franklin (right hamstring), who each missed out on last Saturday’s defeat to FC Dallas. They will join a group that created several opportunities against FC Dallas, but were unable to find the back of the net.
Keane’s inclusion is key as the Irish forward’s movement on the ball and ability to draw center backs Matt Besler and Aurélien Collin out of their position will be vital as LA seek to pressure talented Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. With Keane back in the lineup taking up the lion’s share of attention, expect greater chances for LA’s other attackers such as Mike Magee, Landon Donovan and Jack McBean.
WHO STARTS IN LEONARDO’S PLACE?
Head Coach Bruce Arena will be forced to make at least one change to his lineup after center back Leonardo was issued a red card in LA's 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas, leaving a space open alongside Omar Gonzalez.
There are two primary options for Arena as A.J. DeLaGarza and Tommy Meyer have each performed well alongside Gonzalez over the past two years. Meyer started all six postseason games for the Galaxy last year including the 2012 MLS Cup, but DeLaGarza’s extensive experience alongside Gonzalez, which dates back to their college dates at Maryland, could give him the edge to start center back.
DeLaGarza and Gonzalez not only have an immense comfort level with one another, but DeLaGarza’s speed and positioning could help LA wrap up crafty Sporting forward Claudio Bieler, who has scored four goals so far this season. If DeLaGarza is given the edge alongside Gonzalez, it could go a long way to solve LA’s primary problem this season: conceding late goals.
FOCUS IN THE LAST TEN MINUTES
Late goals have plagued the LA Galaxy of late as seven of eight goals allowed in all competitions in 2013 have come in the final 12 minutes of games. To get their first victory since March 23, LA must remedy this issue.
The answer is not simply limited to the back four, but LA's ability to maintain possession and play team defense for 90 minutes. During LA's recent four-game winless streak, opposing teams have capitalized on turnovers, catching the Galaxy out of position. The issue has also been evident on set pieces where teams have been able to shake Galaxy defenders at times to get chances on frame.
In recent games, Sporting has had success forcing turnovers and scoring on set pieces meaning that maintaining good position across the field will be vital for LA.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com