The top team in the Western Conference will host one of the league’s newcomers on Sunday afternoon. The Los Angeles Galaxy are in the midst of yet another impressive campaign as they sit atop the West and just one point shy of the league’s best point total. It’s been a very different season for New York City FC, however, as they sit on the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff spots despite having perhaps the most star-studded roster in the league. In this battle of big spenders, who will come out on top?
LA is in the midst of a five-game winning streak between league competition and the CONCACAF Champions League. In their last fixture against C.S.D. Comunicaciones, the Galaxy dominated their Guatemalan opponents 5-0 with braces from Alan Gordon and Robbie Keane. With all due respect to Comunicaciones, they could not provide the same level of competition as the MLS and with that being said it still takes composure from the Galaxy to go out there and perform at such a high level. This big win should keep the momentum rolling for Bruce Arena’s men going into Sunday’s fixture at the StubHub Center.
The latest star to join LA is Mexican international Giovani dos Santos. The 26-year-old has spent his career with the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and, most recently, Villareal in La Liga. At all the different stops in his career, dos Santos never truly lived up to his potential. Other than an 11-goal season two years ago, the Mexican forward has never scored more than six goals in league competition. The move stateside has seemingly sparked another goal scoring run for the forward. In his first four games with the new club, dos Santos has already found the back of the net twice, and the growing chemistry between him and his former Tottenham teammate Robbie Keane, and Gyasi Zardes could give the Galaxy the deadliest attack in the league.
New York City are currently level with two other clubs in the East on 28 points, and sit just three points shy of the fifth and final position. One thing going against the first year club, however, is the amount of games-in-hand their opponents have. Jason Kreis’ men have played 25 games and the two clubs above them, Montreal and Toronto, have played just 21 and 23 games, respectively. This means that if the two Canadian teams win their games-in-hand then it doesn’t matter what NYCFC does they will be taking an unwanted early offseason. New York cannot afford to drop any points in their remaining nine fixtures, and a tough test against the Galaxy could make or break their late playoff push.
David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. Those three players have registered a combined 318 international appearances, 12 league titles and four Champions League titles. On the field, these veterans provide an unmatched level of experience and composure to the rest of the squad and as their record states, they know how to win. Injuries and loan spells have limited the three to just two appearances together with Lampard being the usual absentee. Despite the Chelsea legend’s absence, Villa and Pirlo have already begun to build a connection on the field and against a strong LA defense it will be interesting to see if they can continue to show their class.
Even with the veteran presence on New York, I don’t think they have the depth to beat the Galaxy on Sunday. With the form that Los Angeles is in, it’s difficult to see them losing at home (only one team has left StubHub with all three points) and I think this match will end with yet another Galaxy victory. Final score: LA 3-1 NYCFC.