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Three penalties were awarded in the match when LA Galaxy took on Nashville SC earlier this season. Both sides scored once to share the points, but there has to be a winner on Saturday.
Nashville SC took the lead when Hany Mukhtar made no mistake from the spot in the 29th minute. They were awarded the penalty after LA Galaxy’s Derrick Williams handled the ball inside the box.
The home side managed to keep hold of their lead until the break but suffered a setback early in the second half. LA Galaxy were awarded a penalty, and Javier Hernandez stepped up to take it. Joe Wills did well to save the shot and keep the home side’s lead intact.
Nashville defended their lead well and looked set to collect all three points, but LA Galaxy was handed a lifeline. Walker Zimmerman handled the ball inside the box, and the defender was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 97th minute. Piqui Puig stepped up to take the crucial spot kick and scored to level things up in the 99th minute and share the points.
The two sides have met once before, and LA Galaxy won that match. Dejan Joveljić scored the lone goal of the game in the 86th minute – less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
LA Galaxy restricted Nashville to just one shot on target in the entire game and kept 67% of the possession as well. They managed 17 shots of their own, but only got six of them on target.
LA Galaxy have made it to the playoffs this season but needed a late run of form to seal the spot. They won three of their last four matches to move above Nashville SC, Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake, and Portland Timbers to clinch fourth place in the Western Conference.
Riqui Puig has been their best player of late, as the former Barcelona star dominated the midfield for them. He spots passes that eventually lead to assists and also has an eye for goal when needed. The Spaniard has scored thrice this season, including a late dramatic penalty against Nashville, and assisted twice.
The best player this season for LA Galaxy has been their striker, Javier Hernandez. The Mexican has been doing his best to prove that he should be on the plane to Qatar next month for the World Cup, but is unlikely to get it as he is not in the plans of the national team coach.
The former Manchester United striker has scored 18 goals this season, but only managed two assists.
LA Galaxy needed a good run at the end of the season to clinch a playoff spot, and they managed it with ease. They suffered just one defeat in the last 10 matches and managed to win five times in those games. The run of form saw them secure the fourth spot in the Western Conference, and they will now be hoping that they can carry the momentum into the knockout stage.
Their only loss in that stage of the season was to Vancouver Whitecaps and it was a proper wake-up call. The defeat turned out to be a blessing in disguise as they managed to win three of the next four matches and qualify for the playoffs.
LA Galaxy have suffered in attack and defense this season. Their inconsistency at both ends of the match has seen them score just 58 goals while conceding 51 times in the 34 matches of the regular season.
They have a conversion rate of 12% in front of the goal and that needs to improve. Greg Vanney’s side do average 14 shots per game, but only get a third of them on target.
In defense, LA Galaxy have made 6 errors leading to goals and given away seven penalties in total.
Nashville SC have left things late once again but managed to get into the playoffs in the end. Hany Mukhtar has been carrying them once again this season, and the German is set to finish as the club’s top scorer for the third season running.
They managed to get into the playoff spots at the business end of the season with five wins in the last eight matches. They lost just once in those games, and that was in the penultimate game week to Houston Dynamo.
Nashville SC are not a side that manage to hold on to the ball for long. Their average possession this season has been below 46%, while their passing has been off as well. They have just above 80% pass success this season, and those numbers drop to 67% in the opposition’s box.
Another issue with the Nashville players is the lack of accurate shots from outside the box. They have attempted 127 shots from long, but scored just three times. Only one of their 52 goals this season has come from a free kick while seven others have been added from the penalty spot.
Nashville SC have been in top form away from home and have managed to win seven times in their 17 away games. They are one of the best sides while on the road, scoring 22 goals and collecting 26 points in the process. In their last three away games, they secured a stunning win over league leaders Los Angeles FC as well. Teal Bunbury scored the lone goal in the match after Cristian Arango missed a penalty for the home side in the first half.
When they traveled to face Austin FC, the side who finished 2nd in Western Conference, Nashville SC managed to get a 1-1 draw. Hany Mukhtar scored in the 56th minute from the spot to help them take the lead, but Sebastián Driussi equalized for the Texas side just 5 minutes later, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Nashville’s last big win away from home was against the Vancouver Whitecaps in August. They defeated the Canadian side 3-0 thanks to a brace from Jack Maher and another goal from Randall Leal. Dax McCarty had the chance to make it 4-0 at the very end, but his penalty was saved by Thomas Hasal.
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|Teams||LA Galaxy vs Nashville SC|
|Location||Digital Health Sports Park|
|Date||Saturday, 16th October 2022 at 15:00 ET onwards|
|How to watch||Univision, TUDN, MLSsoccer.com & App, TSN4, TVA Sports|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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