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LA Galaxy have no consistent respite this season, as they are still struggling at the wrong end of the table. Ranked 13th in the Western Conference, even a win in the next game will not be enough to lift them up a place, as they are six points behind 12th-placed Austin FC with a game in hand. The five-time MLS champions have won only one of their last five MLS games and were also eliminated from the US Open Cup.
Sporting Kansas City has embraced the resurgence LA Galaxy need over the past few weeks. The club was on the verge of extending their unbeaten streak in the MLS to five games this past weekend against Los Angeles FC. However, a 90th-minute winner handed the side only their second defeat in eight games. It was enough to drop Sporting Kansas City out of the playoff qualification spots, but it’s still early days, and they could return to winning ways soon.
Both sides are desperate for a win for different reasons. The hosts are trying their best not to fall back to the bottom of the table, while the visitors will be looking to re-enter the playoff qualification spots. The chances of this evenly balanced-encounter ending in a stalemate are relatively high.
Including the reverse fixture in March this season, these two clubs have met 22 times in the MLS. Interestingly, Sporting Kansas City have the better record in this encounter, as they have won ten games, while LA Galaxy have only won five.
The remaining seven games have ended in draws. The latest one of those draws came earlier this season when both clubs settled for a point after a hard-fought goalless draw at the Children’s Mercy Park.
The game before that, at the Dignity Health Sports Park, last season also ended in a draw after Javier Hernandez bagged a brace before scuffing his 97th-minute penalty. The Mexican attacker squandered a chance to seal a hattrick for himself and a win for his team as the game ended 2-2.
Sporting Kansas City have struggled on the road this season, but their record at the Dignity Health Sports Park is not too shabby. In fact, the scales are evenly balanced as things stand. Both sides have won four games against the other at this venue, and two games have ended in draws.
Top teams in any domestic league worldwide struggle rarely, and even when they do, they tend to perform better at their home stadium in front of their supporters. However, that is not the case with the LA Galaxy this season.
The horrendous form of the five-time MLS champions is showing no sign of improvement, as they have won just one of their last five league games. Additionally, they are not performing well in their own home stadium.
Last season, during the entire league phase, LA Galaxy lost five of 17 games at home. This season, they have already lost four in seven. They could match last season’s tally in the next game if they fail to beat Sporting Kansas City.
After scoring 18 goals for the club last season, Javier Hernandez missed the start of this season due to a hamstring injury. Missing their talisman, LA Galaxy relied on Dejan Joveljic for goals – a player who had finished last season with 12 goals.
The Serbian failed to deliver and has only scored two goals in 15 appearances this season. Hernandez returned from his injury and featured in nine matches, but his shooting boots were not on as he scored just once before picking up a cruciate ligament injury almost two weeks ago.
LA Galaxy have played three consecutive away matches before returning home for this crunch encounter. They beat Real Salt Lake in the league before losing to them in the US Open Cup, and then they held St. Louis City SC to a 1-1 draw.
Daniel Aguirre scored his first goal of the season in the 85th minute in a game that was dominated by the hosts. LA Galaxy made their passes stick, and eventually, it was the midfielder who smashed the ball past the opposition keeper to nullify their advantage,
After making the slowest start of all teams this season, Sporting Kansas City were rooted to the bottom of the table. Entering recovery mode recently has seen them rise from the bottom, leapfrog at least three teams and compete for the playoff qualification spots.
The club was on a decent run before their previous encounter with Los Angeles FC. Their short stint of four games without a loss ended against the defending champions last weekend in a very tightly contested game that almost ended in a draw.
The visitors need to replicate that performance or do a little better if they want to avoid defeat against another side from Los Angeles. That is the only way the side will keep up with the pack, which is vying for the playoffs.
LA Galaxy may be struggling at home and away this season, but if they come across an equally poor side, the hosts may get the advantage that they so desperately need at this juncture. On the road, Sporting Kansas City have won just one of their ten games.
They have lost five and drawn four. These statistics also indicate that Sporting Kansas City would happily walk away with a point from Dignity Health Sports Park. However, they might not get a better chance to exploit a weak LA Galaxy side this weekend.
While the hosts are struggling in the final third, Sporting Kansas City seemed to have figured out a solution in attack. Alan Pulido is the striker the visitors will rely on because he has scored five goals in 14 appearances.
Interestingly, the striker got off to a very slow start, and four of his five goals this season have come in the last three games. It will be interesting to see if the 32-year-old succeeds at extending his streak and helping his side bounce back with a win.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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