LA Galaxy take on defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy take on defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on the road at Sporting Park in a nationally-televised matchup on Saturday (3 p.m. PT, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).

The Galaxy head into Saturday’s match with a 23-18-11 all-time record against Sporting KC and have outscored the Eastern Conference side 80 to 61 in their 52 meetings, but have been unable to record a win in their past five trips to Kansas City. 

After extending their unbeaten streak to eight games with a five-goal performance Wednesday night against a struggling New England Revolution, the Galaxy (7-3-6, 27 points) will look to build on their best offensive performance of the year, including two goals each from Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes.

Sporting Kansas City are also in a good run of form, undefeated in their last five MLS matches, winning four of them.

“They’ve been winning games,” said Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena. “They’re obviously the defending champions in the League. They have one of the leading goal scorers in Dom Dwyer, an experienced group of center backs and all of their guys in the midfield, so they’ve got a good balance.”

Scoring first in Saturday’s match could prove to be crucial, as both teams are undefeated on the year when tallying first. LA is 7-0-3 when opening the game’s scoring while Kansas City has gone 9-0-4.

The Sporting Kansas City defense will be boosted by the presence of Aurelien Collin, who will be available for selection after it was announced Friday that his red card vs. Columbus had been rescinded.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Stefan Ishizaki said. “We know they never quit. They played with 10 men for a lot of the game [Wednesday against Columbus Crew] and still they won it 2-1, so they have a lot of confidence, but so do we. So we know we will play a really good team and hopefully we can get out of there with a couple points.”

Bruce Arena will be forced to shuffle the back line as he will be without right back Dan Gargan, who had started in every game since replacing an injured James Riley March 22 against Real Salt Lake.

While the game against New England was a boost for the Galaxy, LA will be ready to test themselves against stiff competition when they take on the Eastern Conference leaders on the road.

“They have playmakers all over the field,” said Landon Donovan. “They have Benny Feilhaber who scored a great goal [Wednesday against Columbus Crew]. Graham Zusi is really good defensively. Dom Dwyer has been excellent. They are all the making of a real team, and it is going to be a good challenge.”