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Onto Week 2 of the 2021 MLS season.
After getting a dramatic 3-2 away victory over Inter Miami, the LA Galaxy will now host the New York Red Bulls this Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park. Looking over at the visitors, the Red Bulls will be left slightly hurt after letting an early 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 loss against Sporting Kansas City last week.
Although both teams are trying to sort themselves out under new management, the Galaxy not only have a home advantage and momentum, but also a key figure up top who could end up being one of the leading goalscorers of the season. New York have had a lot of changes in the offseason and will probably need some time before gelling together.
LA Galaxy to win (+117)
|LA Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls Information|
|What||LA Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls|
|Where||Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles, California)|
|When||Sunday, April 25th at 5:30 pm ET|
|How to Watch||FS1, Fox Deportes|
It’s safe to say that regardless of the results from Week 1, both the Galaxy and Red Bulls aren’t exactly the first teams that come to mind when MLS fans think of powerful title-contenders.
Red Bulls have had a number of roster changes, a manager who has only had a few months under his belt and are coming off a 2020 season that had them finishing with an uneventful spot at 6th in the Eastern Conference.
Manager Gerhard Struber, who took over before a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew in the first round of last season’s playoffs, has now had just two official games with Red Bulls after making his home debut last week.
But what about the Galaxy?
There’s a certain wildcard vibe about the five-time MLS Cup champions this season. After their dismal end to 2020 with a place at 10th in the Western Conference, things could turn around for them this year.
Especially if a certain superstar continues his goalscoring…
On paper, Hernandez could (and should) be the best player in MLS. Blessed with world-class finishing and movement in the box, the former Manchester United striker showcased his skills with two goals in the season-opening win over Miami.
And believe it or not, those two goals equaled his tally from 2020.
Held back by injuries, the pandemic, and some off-the-field issues, Hernandez struggled in his debut MLS season. Since then, the Mexican striker has been open and honest about the obstacles he has needed to overcome. Hernandez came off as emotional and motivated before the current season, and in the season-opener, his enthusiasm was on full display with his latest brace.
This could be Hernandez’s year, and when taking a look at most of his performances in his career, it’s easy to find a long list of goals for nearly every club he has played for.
Although he’s been around since late last year, it was clear that last week’s match was just the second official game for the Red Bulls with Struber. Following a promising start to the game with a high-pressing approach, New York began to tire in the 2nd half and looked a bit frustrated after allowing two immediate goals.
There’s undoubtedly some intrigue about the 44-year-old Austrian who recently helped Barnsley avoid relegation in the EFL Championship, but an adjustment period appears needed.
Being able to maintain that intense pressing style of play is something that could take time, especially with lots of new faces in the roster.
As for the Galaxy, the good news is that they’ve already highlighted their ability to turn a bad result around. After initially going down 1-0 last week to Miami, it felt somewhat similar to what 2020 was for the club: Uninspiring, monotonous and fairly bleak.
A loss appeared imminent until manager Greg Vanney decided to take back control in the 2nd half. With a handful of substitutions, the Galaxy became rejuvenated with more attacking momentum that pushed the team to scoring three times in the last 30 minutes.
Despite the fact that Hernandez should be given lots of praise, credit is also due to Vanney for bringing in names like Ethan Zubak (who provided an assist) and Sacha Kljestan (who scored the game-winner).
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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