2018 Key Transfers: Columbus Crew

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the key additions and losses for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Columbus Crew’s key transfers and what it could mean for them in the 2018 MLS season…

Columbus Crew are heading into the 2018 season with plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the club. Relocation concerns are still hanging over the franchise and key players have moved on to rival teams. Gregg Berhalter is preparing for his fifth-straight season as the Crew head coach but he knows the team needs some more firepower if they are to make the playoffs once again. They finished fifth last term after a strong end to the season and beat Atlanta and New York City FC in the playoffs. However, they couldn’t get past Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship game. They ended the season on a high, on the field, and need to try and hit the ground running with a new-look team this time around…

Key Signings

Mike Grella: Grella has proven himself as a dangerous playmaker in MLS since joining the Red Bulls ahead of the 2015 season. He scored 16 goals and added 13 assists in his first two seasons with the Red Bulls but was ruled out for the season back in June last year. He was picked up by Colorado in the re-entry draft but instantly traded to Columbus in return for a second-round draft pick in 2019. The Crew will hope he can stay injury-free and settle quickly into a new-look Columbus attack.

Gyasi Zardes: Alongside Grella will be fellow new arrival Gyasi Zardes, who has been sent to Columbus from the Galaxy following a big trade for Ola Kamara. Zardes had been with his hometown club for five-straight years, but saw his involvement drop off massively over the past two seasons as a result of injury troubles and poor form. He needs to play more games, and should get that opportunity with the Black and Gold. He also needs to play in his natural attacking position, after being deployed at right-back during the latter stages of his time with the Galaxy. He has the potential to be a hit, but it’s a major ask for him to replace Kamara’s goals.

Milton Valenzuela: This is a player to look out for in 2018. The 19-year-old left-back has joined the Crew as a Designated Player on loan from Newell’s Old Boys with the option to buy. Valenzuela will be classed a Young Designated Player this season and is expected to be a regular starter at left-back, replacing the departed Jukka Raitala and Waylon Francis. He is an attacking full-back, who should suit Gregg Berhalter’s attacking style of play perfectly. Expect him to impress.

Notable Departures

Waylon Francis: The loss of Francis means Columbus are left thin at left-back. Raitala also left and although Valenzuela has arrived, the absence of Francis in the dressing room could be a blow after spending the past four seasons with the club. He has joined the Seattle Sounders, where he will hope to see more game time after two consecutive years of struggling to nail down a regular starting berth with the Crew.

Ola Kamara: Kamara’s exit had looked on the cards for some time and it was made official following the 2018 MLS SuperDraft as LA Galaxy sent Zardes and $400,000 in allocation money the Crew’s way. Kamara scored 34 goals in 59 appearances for Columbus over two seasons and his absence will more than likely be felt. Particularly if Zardes fails to hit the ground running.

Kekuta Manneh: Manneh was expected to be a hit in Columbus after joining from the Whitecaps last year but he managed just four goals and three assists in 19 games. He was offered a contract to remain with the Crew for the 2018 season but has decided to make the move the Liga MX instead with Pachuca. His loss adds to depth problems in attack as things stand, with Kamara and Meram’s departures leaving Columbus short of options in attack.

Justin Meram: Columbus made it clear they wouldn’t let Meram leave the club unless they received a significant offer this winter. That was even after the winger had made it clear he was looking for a move, as a result of relocation concerns and because he was looking for a new challenge. Everyone ended up happy. Meram got a new challenge and Columbus received a significant offer as Orlando City sent $1.05 million in allocation money as well as an international roster spot. Meram’s loss will no doubt be felt, both on the field and off it. He was a fan favourite after being drafted in 2011, going on to score 37 goals in 188 games.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, April 10 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 5/6 – Draw 13/5 – Portland 16/5

Match Preview

LA Galaxy welcome Western Conference rivals Portland Timbers to StubHub Centre on Sunday in a standout MLS fixture this weekend.  

Galaxy currently sit fourth in the West after a solid start to the 2016 campaign which has seen them lose just once in their four outings. They come into the tie off the back of their 0-0 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps – a respectable away point which they will look to build upon this weekend.

Bruce Arena will be pleased with how his side are performing in the early stages of the season and his defensive signings have made a great impact, as they have conceded the joint-second fewest amount of goals across both conferences.

Galaxy will be more than up for this tie and as always should be feeling confident at home. They have won nine of their last 11 ties at StubHub Centre and despite their squad being hit by some injuries to key players, LA will fancy their chances here.

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Portland Timbers have endured a difficult opening four games to the new season and they must now push on and start to pick up points if they are to stand a chance at retaining their MLS Cup title.

Caleb Porter’s side are sitting 9th, in the depths of the West, and that isn’t where the defending MLS Cup holders would have been expecting to be at the start of the 2016 season. There is no need for Timbers fans to panic as the season is still in its early stages.

Portland were thumped 4-1 away at Orlando last weekend, a result that not many would have predicted, and they need to bounce back into action this time out with a much stronger showing.

The Timbers haven’t travelled well against Galaxy, with last season’s win at StubHub their first in eight attempts. Worryingly for Porter, his side have conceded nine goals in their fours outings, something he will be desperately trying to improve on so Portland can work their way back up the table.

If Portland can take at least a point here it gives them a great foundation to build upon heading into their next two games, which are both at home.

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Team News

LA Galaxy could be without up to six players for this tie with some key faces missing through injury. Dan Kennedy, Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are all expected to be out, while Giovani Dos Santos, Jeff Larentowicz and Leonardo are all doubts. There will be added pressure for those filling in, but Galaxy are fortunate to have impressive depth to the squad, so they should be able to manage without those key players.

Portland Timbers have just three injury concerns. Defensive duo Andy Thoma and Liam Ridgewell are out, along with midfielder Ben Zemanski.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s form: W/L/W/D

Portland Timbers’ form: W/L/D/L

Key Stat: Goals – These sides have shared an astonishing 24 goals in their last five meetings. If that is anything to go by we should be in for a cracker here. 

Key Player: Gyasi Zardes – The Galaxy forward will be expected to step up and provide for his side in the absence in some of their key players. He has netted twice already this season and has the ability to provide opposition defenders will problems.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 3-1 Portland Timbers – LA Galaxy are more than capable of winning this tie despite having some key faces missing from the squad. Arena will be expecting his side to take advantage of Portland’s recent struggles and continue a very strong run of home form against their opposition. True to recent meetings between these sides there will be plenty of action and goals are to be expected.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Who should you be bringing in for the first DGW of the season?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

Week 3 Review

The Good:

LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes ($9.5) helped continue his side’s unbeaten home run as he netted two goals in his side’s 3-1 win against San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday as they climbed to 2nd in the Western Conference. Reigning MLS Cup champions Portland came from two goals down to grab a point at home to Real Salt Lake, with Fanendo Adi ($10.2) grabbing a brace, including one from the spot late on. Philadelphia picked up their second win of the season with a convincing 3-0 home victory over the New England Revolution. American forward CJ Sapong ($8.1) opened his MLS 2016 goals account with two in his side’s well-deserved victory, while rookie defender Keegan Rosenberry ($5.5) made four interceptions and two crucial tackles to preserve his side’s second clean-sheet in three matches. 

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The Bad:

Unbeaten Real Salt Lake threw away a two-goal lead at Portland Timbers in the last 11 minutes, but also saw two of their men receive red cards. With his side a goal up, midfielder Kyle Beckerman ($8.3) saw red, followed by defender Jamison Olave ($7.8), who received his marching orders in the 83rd minute. Manager Jeff Cassar will surely be frustrated with his side’s lack of discipline. A further three red cards were dished out across the weekend, making a grand total of 5 across all matches. San Jose’s Jamaican DP Simon Dawkins ($8.6), New England Revolution defender Je-Vaughn Watson ($6.9) and former Wigan Athletic midfielder Roger Espinoza ($7.2) all saw red for their misdemeanours. It certainly was another fiery weekend in MLS!

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Week 4 Preview

Must Buy:

With the first Double Gameweek of the season hurtling towards us at top speed, it’s time for you to stack up on players who could make a real impact in the Week 4 scoring charts. I’m going to attempt to recommend one player from each side that has a Double Gameweek this week. Firstly, from DC United, Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas ($7.1) is definitely a safe bet to score a decent quantity of bonus points in both matches, so if you’re looking for guaranteed points, he’s your man. FC Dallas are missing a number of their key players this international break, so it’s a chance for Mauro Diaz ($10.4) to continue to show his incredible credentials without the likes of Tesho Akindele and Kellyn Acosta surrounding him. The New England Revs have had a disappointing start to the season, but it could’ve been a lot worse if it wasn’t for star ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth ($5.8). A clean sheet and two saved penalties in three games make Shuttleworth by far and away the best performer so far in this poor New England side. I also expect that this week will be the week that Kekuta Manneh’s ($8.5) ability shines through for the Whitecaps in their double header of home games. However, I would not recommend picking up any Whitecaps defenders as they face free-scoring Houston on Saturday, followed by the visit of LA Galaxy, who are also a dangerous attacking outfit.

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Must Sell:

This week, I’m struggling to see anyone or any team that stands out to me as particularly worth selling over everyone else. Obviously, dropping any of the red-carded players can’t be argued against and anyone losing faith in the Sounders ever picking up form would be understood if they were to remove Clint Dempsey ($10.8) or Jordan Morris ($8.2) from their side. The New York Red Bulls also picked up a host of hamstring injuries in their 4-3 victory over Houston, so defenders Gideon Baah ($8.0) and Ronald Zubar ($7.8) could be ones to remove before their match against the Revs on April 1.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps 2016 Clint Dempsey


There’s a new leader in the MLSGB Fantasy League this week, as Damian Reed’s brilliantly named side De Jong Trousers now tops the leaderboard. However, this week’s highest scorer was SW Whistler’s squad Pits of Passyunk with 87 points, which included double figures from Philly players CJ Sapong and Fabinho, his chosen captain Cyle Larin and Red Bulls midfield maestro Sacha Kljestan.

Who do you think is the best player to select for the upcoming Double Gameweek?

Getting Stuck In: Should they stay or should they go?

The Getting Stuck In column delves into some of the more intriguing aspects in US Soccer and MLS, shining a light on the stories regarding the league’s teams and its most-loved characters. This week Dave Lewis looks into whether American players should strive to play in Europe or keep their feet grounded on home soil…

When Jurgen Klinsmann claimed that he wanted American players to push themselves to play at the highest level, he intentionally took a jab at MLS. Actually, it was more like a slap. The American soccer landscape shook. Just this week, Klinsmann’s second in command Andi Herzog was quoted as saying: “Our goal is to get as many players to Europe as possible.”

How could Klinsy dismiss MLS this way? I mean, this is his adopted country where he gets his tan and laid back SoCal vibe. And with so many MLS players on his January roster (20), why alienate them? How does that help his cause?

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It’s no secret Europe is the highest level when it comes to soccer, with Champions League football being the toughest competition out there. And Helen Keller could see that MLS is nowhere near the level of Europe in general. That being said, the American player has always faced a dilemma: ‘Do I stay in the States and play college, get drafted by an MLS team and maybe get a shot in Europe later, or do I try and ply my trade in Europe right away (given the chance)?’

So many players have made the wrong choice. They either went too early or too late to Europe. Or they never go at all, leaving US fans wondering, what if.

Landon Donovan, arguably America’s finest footballer, did go to Europe but was all over the map – literally. His journey is the best example of what American footballers face; chaos and confusion.  He was brave and bold by going over to Germany as a teenager, playing with Bayer Leverkusen. Most players would recognize this as a dream – the Bundesliga, a big club, living in Germany – But he just never adjusted to the German culture. Donovan was just homesick (or maybe a victim of an unwritten anti-US bias). He was subsequently loaned to San Jose in MLS. When given another chance with Leverkusen years later, he lasted just seven games before getting homesick again.

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Many US fans dubbed Donovan a bust in Europe despite having won two MLS Cups before the age of 23. It’s obvious LD went too young. But when Bayern Munich and his former Cal pal and Bayern manager Jurgen Klinsmann called in his late twenties, well, we all thought this was it. LD will do work for the Bavarian giants. But he worked for only six miserable games on loan. He would go on to have two incredible loan spells with Everton near the end of his career, that included winning a player of the month honour. His performances would leave me and my buddy Eric glued to the television going bananas with pride over how he looked like a legit Premier League player. But the verdict on LD’s career has to be MLS rich, European poor.

Players are plucked at different points from MLS rosters with varying degrees of success. Clint Dempsey (Revs) was young. Brian McBride (Crew) was old. And Carlos Bocanegra (Fire) was somewhere in between. They all are legends with Fulham so their timing was right. But the timing for players like Jozy Altidore was probably all wrong.

Jozy did well with the Red Bulls (37 games and 15 goals) and caught Villarreal’s attention while still a teenager. He was raw, but again Helen Keller could have seen he had talent. After a few loan spells he went to Hull and laid an egg: 1 goal in 28 appearances. Then, after crushing the Dutch League (my grandmother could score in that league and she has no left foot), he went to Sunderland and laid an even bigger egg: 1 goal in 42. As a result, most would label him a European catastrophe.

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So Jozy went back to MLS where maybe he belonged all along. Some think Jozy got a fair chance in Europe. But some would say the deck was stacked against him from the start. Hull and Sunderland were bottom-dwelling teams clawing their way to stay up. Most managers don’t trust unknown commodities like US players to save their clubs and their jobs.

Fair? Not really. US players may lack technical skills and flair but they work hard, are extremely fit and are total professionals. That’s why when ex-Sounder DeAndre Yedlin got subbed after 18 minutes for Sunderland in December I thought: “Man, he sure wasn’t ready for England, and he sure didn’t deserve that.”

So now, with the January transfer window open, I thought I would look at three US players linked with European moves and evaluate whether they should stay in MLS or listen to Klinsy.

Matt Miazga – Age 20 – Central Defender – New York Red Bulls

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Rumors: The Polish-American (hasn’t decided which national team to play for) was linked in the fall to Chelsea, Leicester, Stoke and Swansea.

What he does well: Strong in the air, exceptional pace for his size and defends set pieces like a warrior.

What he needs to work on: Ball at his feet, less fouling and temper.

Stay or go?: Will he sit on a bench in Europe if he goes? If he goes to the Prem, most likely. Germany? Less likely. His game needs to develop and getting matches under his belt in MLS (only 34 appearances so far) defending against the likes of Drogba, Villa, Kamara, Giovinco and Keane can’t hurt. STAY (for now)!

 

Jordan Morris – Age 21 – Forward – Unattached

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Rumors: Is training with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen this month but could sign with his hometown club, Seattle Sounders, who own his MLS rights.

What he does well: Bullish approach to the game like a young Wayne Rooney; physically gifted with good speed.

What he needs to work on: Defense, pro experience

Stay or go?: This is a strange case. Usually a player like Morris, who just finished his junior year at Stanford, would go to MLS. But he already has a goal and seven caps for the national team, which is unheard of for a college player. He wants to play in Europe. His tenacity and high IQ would work well in Germany. GO!

 

Gyasi Zardes – Age 24 – Forward/winger – LA Galaxy

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Rumors: The US international has been linked to Reading in the Championship and Belgian side Gent, while more recently there was an offer from an unnamed Championship side for $3 million.

What he does well: Big, strong and powerful, runs well down the flanks, links well with midfielders.

What he needs to work on: Passing.

Stay or go?: In 2014 he was a goal-scoring machine for the Galaxy. Struggled a bit in 2015. But he had a breakout year with the national team as Klinsmann used him as a winger. This is a tough call. Is the Championship that much better than MLS (a debate for another day)? Will he develop playing in a smaller league like in Belgium? He is 24, making decent money and playing for an MLS glamour club. STAY!

Transfer update: Reading join chase for LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes

LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes is a man in demand. The 23-year-old attacker has been developing into an impressive talent with the Galaxy and the US Men’s National Team over the past two years and teams in Europe have been taking note.

English Championship side Reading FC have now joined the hunt for Zardes, according to a report by the Reading Chronicle on Friday.

The report indicates: “Sources have since confirmed that 23-year-old Zardes is very much on Royals’ radar and the club will attempt to force through a deal before the September 1 transfer deadline.”

It goes on to mention that fellow American Danny Williams could provide an extra incentive for Zardes to make the jump across the pond to play in England, as he currently plays for Reading.

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Reading’s rivals, Brighton & Hove Albion, as well as Belgian club Genk are also looking at making a move for Zardes as his future could lie away from MLS.

Gyasi Zardes signed with the LA Galaxy in December 2012 on a Homegrown contract and has gone on to score 25 times in 80 league games.

The Galaxy have recently signed Steven Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos, so although Zardes remains a key part of the first-team squad, the reigning MLS Cup holders could look to cash in if the right offer arrives.

Should LA Galaxy sell Gyasi Zardes if an offer from Europe arrives? Would he be a good signing for Reading?

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: StubHub Center – Friday, July 17 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/9 – Draw 16/5 – San Jose Earthquakes 11/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy face the San Jose Earthquakes in the third Californian Clasico in less than three weeks at StubHub Center on Friday night in a game that should see Steven Gerrard make his MLS debut.

All eyes will be on Gerrard as he plays his first game in Major League Soccer but the former Liverpool captain will be focused on trying to seal all three points to move LA into top spot in the Western Conference for at least a few hours.

A Galaxy win would see them move onto 34 points, just one behind Supporters’ Shield leaders DC United so this is a crucial game for last year’s MLS Cup winners.

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The fact that it’s against their fiercest rivals in MLS will only intensify pressure and the home crowd will be desperate for revenge following their 3-1 defeat to San Jose in the reverse league fixture at the end of June.

LA did beat San Jose 1-0 in the US Open Cup a few days after that defeat but it’s results in MLS that mean most to fans. The loss to San Jose was their only league defeat in their last five and they’ve won their last three at home, scoring 14 and conceding just one.

The Earthquakes will have a tough task winning at StubHub Center as they haven’t done so since 2012 and come into the game off back-to-back losses to Portland and Houston without scoring a goal.

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Steven Gerrard has played 90 minutes over two games so far for the Galaxy but Friday night will see him make his MLS debut in front of his own fans and it’s tough to see San Jose spoiling the party.

Team News

Brian Perk is out for the season but is LA’s only injury concern heading into this one. But Jaime Penedo, Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes and Alan Gordon are all away at the Gold Cup as is new signing Giovani Dos Santos so none of those will feature here.

San Jose boss Dominic Kinnear is still without Innocent Emeghara and Steven Lenhart. More worryingly, Chris Wondolowski and Cordell Cato, who both scored in the 3-1 win over the Galaxy last month, are away at the Gold Cup with the USA and Trinidad and Tobago respectively.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five in MLS: D/W/W/L/W

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five in MLS: D/W/W/L/L

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have scored at least four goals in their last three home matches in MLS, conceding just once.

Key Player: Steven Gerrard – Impossible to overlook the midfield enforcer as he will be desperate to start his MLS career with a victory against the Galaxy’s fierce rivals.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes – Both sides missing players but the Galaxy to get revenge for last month’s loss with a win by the same scoreline. Expect Gerrard to be involved with plenty of positive play going forward.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: StubHub Center – Wednesday, June 24 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Portland Timbers 14/5

Match Preview

LA Galaxy welcome Portland Timbers to StubHub Center on Wednesday night in one of the seven midweek MLS fixtures.

Galaxy come into the game off the back of their 5-1 destruction of Philadelphia Union on Saturday and so spirits will be high. But they cannot afford to think this will be an easy tie.

Bruce Arena will be pleased that his side showed they are still as deadly in front of goal, but will know they have been below par by their standards for most of this campaign.

LA have only won three of their last ten regular season games and are sitting fourth in the Western Conference, level on 25 points with Wednesday’s opponents Portland.

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Portland Timbers won their fourth MLS game on the bounce last weekend as they beat Houston Dynamo 2-0 at home.

Caleb Porter‘s side have been in brilliant form and they now sit third in the Western Conference, having played two games less than their opponents.

They have scored seven in their last four games which is worrying for anyone they’re are coming up against, as they are scoring freely.

Goals have been coming from all over the pitch for Portland, which makes them all the more of a threat and they will be hoping to extend their winning run to five in LA.

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Team News

LA Galaxy could have four missing as goalkeeper Brian Perk is out, while Todd Dunivant and Edson Buddle are both doubtful. Bradford Jamieson IV will still require tests before the game to see if he’s recovered from a concussion picked up while with the US Under-20’s.

Portland Timbers could be without up to four players too. Ben Zemanski is out, while Diego Valeri, Dairon Asprilla and Alvas Powell are all doubts.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/D/L/D/W

Portland Timbers’ last five in MLS: L/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are undefeated in 27 of their last 28 home games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Gyasi Zardes – The pacey forward netted his fourth of the season last weekend and has a real chance to show can provide against tough opposition here.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-2 Portland Timbers – A tight game with neither side able to come out on top. This has the potential for goals but it’s too tough to split them.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo 

Venue: StubHub Center – Friday, May 22nd – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Houston Dynamo 4/1

Match Preview

LA Galaxy welcome Houston Dynamo to StubHub Center on Friday night in a game which is a must win for Bruce Arena’s side.

The Galaxy haven’t won in their last five games and have lost their last two on the bounce. Last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Orlando City was an awful result and they need a positive reaction here.

Arena has an injury crisis with eight players who could miss out. They have a chance to turn their problems around with two home games on the bounce now. Galaxy need to turn their fortunes around as they cannot afford to go into the game against New England Revolution without picking up any points.

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LA are missing Robbie Keane, not just for his goals, but his leadership qualities. His absence is affecting the performances of Gyasi Zardes, who has just two goals this season.

Houston Dynamo have just started to hit form, winning their last two in a row. Owen Coyle will feel his side have a good chance of getting something from this game given Galaxy’s recent form, but the hosts haven’t been beaten in their last 24 games at StubHub.

This is the first of two away games in a row for the Dynamo, who have only lost once on the road this season. The game has added incentive for these two sides as they are separated by just two points in the Western Conference.

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Will Bruin has three goals in his last two games, including two in last weekends 3-1 win over Portland Timbers, and he will want to prove his form is not just a purple patch and he can send out message if he can help his side win this tie against the reigning champions.

Team News

LA Galaxy have eight injury concerns to Brian Perk, Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle, Todd Dunivant, Jose Villarreal, Kenney Walker, Robbie Rogers and Omar Gonzalez, leaving Arena scratching his head at fielding a side. Keane has been a big miss and has played just four games. The sooner he returns the better for Galaxy.

By stark contrast, Houston Dynamo have just one injury to deal with Nathan Sturgis set to miss out for Coyle’s side. Ricardo Clark and Kofi Sarkodie are just one yellow card away from a suspension so will need to be weary of their approach.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/D/D/W/W

Houston Dynamo last five: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Galaxy haven’t beaten Dynamo in their last three attempts and every passing game without a win now for Arena’s side becomes a bigger problem.

Key Player: Giles Barnes – The forward has six goals in 11 appearances so far this season and his partnership with Bruin is what Dynamo have to thank for being in a playoff spot at this stage.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 1-1 Houston Dynamo – A cagey affair in this one is expected with a rusty Galaxy side desperate for a win as they cannot afford to lose. Dynamo need to take points from their upcoming two away games and a point would be respectable here.

LA Galaxy success is homegrown as Bradford Jamieson IV bursts onto MLS scene

By Sandy Beeson: Twitter – @Sandy_Beeson

Through a remarkable weekend of MLS action there were many performances to be lauded, with four different teams scoring four goals apiece, and several big results across the league. One performance that stood out was that of Bradford Jamieson IV – an 18-year-old attacker who is providing further proof that LA Galaxy‘s recent successes have been in some way down to a successful youth policy.

It took the homegrown signing just nine minutes to make his big impact on the game. Collecting the ball well outside the box, Jamieson took on Chris Duvall, cutting inside both the defender and the covering Dax McCarty before burying a composed low finish past Luis Robles for a goal that belied his first team inexperience in just his second MLS appearance.

VIDEO: Bradford Jamieson IV’s goal against New York Red Bulls (via LA Galaxy on YouTube):

With the ongoing absence of Robbie Keane, Jamieson has been thrust into first team action, earning a first start for the Galaxy in last week’s 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City at StubHub Center. The pacy forward made an instant impression, constantly looking to stretch the Sporting defence with 10 attempted dribbles – two more than rest of his teammates combined.

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What impressed in the game against New York was Jamieson’s willingness to work for the team. Against a more solid defensive unit there was less opportunity for Jamieson to take on his opponents but the youngster attempted seven tackles, more than any of Galaxy’s four defenders.

With the Red Bulls dominant in possession, LA required Jamieson to provide an outlet further up the pitch. He consistently held the ball up and released teammates in a disciplined performance that served as an exciting glimpse of the striker’s potential and provided further evidence of Galaxy’s productive academy.

Since signing Tristan Bowen on the first-ever MLS homegrown contract in 2008, LA Galaxy have been one of the more successful teams in the league for producing their own players. Gyasi Zardes last season scored 16 goals for Galaxy, the highest single-season tally for a homegrown signing, whilst Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto recently turned out for the US U-23s.

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Galaxy have a reputation for bringing in big-money signings, having bought the likes of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and now Steven Gerrard over recent years, but the emergence of Jamieson, Zardes and Villarreal shows that the team continue to lead the league in youth development too.

Do LA Galaxy have the best youth development policy in MLS?

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, April 12th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/5 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 10/3

Match Preview

LA Galaxy take on Seattle Sounders in this weekend’s standout fixture on Sunday night with both sides coming into the game desperate for a win.

These two Western Conference rivals are two of the best teams in MLS and battled each other to the very end of last season for the Supporters’ Shield, so even though this is early in the season, Sunday’s meeting will be an important one.

It’s made more important considering neither side has been able to find any real form so far this season, with just three wins in nine games between them.

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The Galaxy lost 2-0 at the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend, leaving them with back-to-back regular season defeats for the first time since June 2013.

They were shutout for the second game in a row last weekend, and that is the first time that has happened to the five-time MLS Cup winners since May 2012, so things need to improve quickly.

Seattle edged past the Houston Dynamo 1-0 last weekend to seal their first victory since opening weekend and Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins have scored all six of the Sounders’ goals so far.

The Galaxy have not lost at home yet this season, beating Chicago in their opener and drawing 1-1 with Houston Dynamo three weeks ago, and supporters will be desperate to see them return to winning ways against the Sounders this weekend.

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The pair met three times in the regular season last year, winning one each and drawing one so this rivalry is perfectly poised.

They also met in the Western Conference championship game in the playoffs, with LA advancing on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate tie.

Team News

LA Galaxy look set to be without five men as Brian Perk (ankle), Kenney Walker (groin), Leonardo (quadriceps), Mika Vayrynen (calf) and Jose Villarreal (hamstring) are all injured. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes will continue in attack and need to start finding form now.

Seattle will be without Gonzalo Pineda after he was sent off in last week’s win against Houston, while Leonardo Gonzalez (hip) is also out. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins will look to inflict further damage on the Galaxy and the pair have scored all of the Sounders’ goals so far this season.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s form: W/D/D/L/L

Seattle Sounders’ form: W/L/D/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in their last 21 home games in MLS and will need that streak to continue to avoid panic setting in.

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Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The Sounders attacker has three goals and two assists in three appearances this season and is key to Seattle’s hopes.

Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 1-2 Seattle Sounders – The Galaxy don’t look settled as a side just yet as the loss of Landon Donovan is clearly having an impact. Seattle have only lost once and with Martins and Dempsey in full flow, they will be too strong for their rivals in this one.