MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, June 20 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST – Sunday, June 21)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/7 – Draw 3/1 – Philadelphia Union 9/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy welcome Philadelphia Union to StubHub Center on Saturday night for the only meeting between these two sides in the 2015 MLS regular season.

The Galaxy come into this game looking to end a run of three games without a win (D2, L1), although they picked up a valuable point in a 1-1 draw away at the Columbus Crew last time out.

Bruce Arena’s side have struggled to get going in 2015 so far as 22 points from their opening 17 games currently leaves them sixth in the Western Conference and clinging on to a playoff spot.

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LA have only won two of their last ten matches (D5, L3) and also lost their 23-game unbeaten streak in MLS regular season home matches when they lost 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps in their last match on home soil.

Philadelphia Union arrive in Los Angeles off the back of a two-week break from MLS action. Their most recent league fixture was a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to New York City.

Before that defeat, the Union had been on an impressive run of form that had seen them secure wins over DC United, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.

Picture courtesy of philadelphiaunion.com

Photo courtesy of philadelphiaunion.com

Jim Curtin will be urging his side to try and replicate the performances from those games in order to try and get something out of a game that he knows will be tough despite the Galaxy’s stuttering start to the 2015 campaign.

Both sides successfully secured their place in the fifth round of the US Open Cup in midweek, but attentions will now turn back to MLS as LA and Philadelphia continue the fight for playoff places in their respective conferences.

The last meeting between these two saw the LA Galaxy run out as convincing 4-1 winners over Philadelphia. The Union have only ever beaten the Galaxy once in seven attempts (D1, L5), which came via a 2-1 success on the same ground back in July 2012.

Team News

LA Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk (ankle) remains out, while Todd Dunivant (leg) and Edson Buddle (groin) are both doubts. Bradford Jamieson IV will be tested before the game to see if he’s recovered from concussion.

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Philadelphia Union will be without Steven Vitoria and Antoine Hoppenot (both hamstring), while there’s also doubts over the fitness of Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (leg), Fernando Aristeguieta (leg) and Conor Casey (leg).

Key Points

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

Philadelphia Union’s last five in MLS: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have failed to win nine of their last 10 away matches in MLS.

Key Player: C. J. Sapong – He’s been excellent recently, netting three times in his last four matches. The Union will be looking to him for inspiration if they’re to get anything out of this one.

Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com

Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com

Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 Philadelphia Union – The Galaxy should just edge this because of their home advantage. The Union don’t tend to travel particularly well and that could be their downfall.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Sunday, May 31 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Monday, June 1)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 5/4 – Draw 23/10 – LA Galaxy 11/5

Match Preview

New England Revolution welcome LA Galaxy to Gillette Stadium for a repeat of the 2014 MLS Cup final and the only fixture between these two sides in the 2015 MLS regular season.

The Revs come into this crucial encounter seeking revenge for the 2014 MLS Cup final defeat, but they’re on a run of four games without a win (D3, L1), although they’ve only lost once in their last 11.

Jay Heaps’ side are currently second in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from their opening 13 games and are also unbeaten in seven matches at home so far this season (W3, D4).

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LA Galaxy have put an end to a five-game winless streak by winning two on the bounce, beating both Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake 1-0 at StubHub Center.

Bruce Arena will be concerned with the Galaxy’s away form as they haven’t won any of their seven games on the road this season (D3, L4) – in-fact, LA haven’t won any of their last 13 away games in MLS.

The Galaxy are currently fourth in the Western Conference with 20 points from their first 14 games and a win here could potentially take them level with conference leaders Seattle.

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The last time these two met was of course the MLS Cup final in December 2014 that saw LA Galaxy win 2-1 after extra-time. The game was tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes before a Robbie Keane strike made the difference.

The most recent regular season meeting was a comprehensive 5-1 victory for LA Galaxy in July 2014 and the last fixture at Gillette Stadium saw the Revs thrash Galaxy 5-0 in June 2013, so this couldn’t be harder to predict.

Team News

New England Revolution will be without Darrius Barnes (knee) through injury, while key players Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney will miss the game through suspension after they were both sent off against DC United last week.

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LA Galaxy defenders Todd Dunivant (knee), Robbie Rogers (achilles) and A.J. DeLaGarza (foot) could all miss out through injury, while goalkeeper Brian Perk is a long-term absentee with a broken ankle.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five: W/D/D/L/D

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: New England are undefeated in their last 17 home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Galaxy have automatically looked more convincing since their skipper returned to action and he could play a crucial role in helping LA to secure a positive result.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 1-1 LA Galaxy – The Revs have drawn their last two home games 1-1, making it a likely scoreline against a Galaxy side that have won two on the bounce and have recovered well from the 4-0 loss in Orlando two weeks ago.

Steven Gerrard writes emotional farewell letter to fans ahead of LA Galaxy move

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has delivered one final message to the fans before he jets off for the USA in July to join up with his LA Galaxy teammates and prepares for life in MLS.

“Saying goodbye hasn’t been easy. Liverpool Football Club has been such a massive part of my life since I was eight years old and I know how much I’m going to miss it,” said Gerrard in an open letter.

“It’s been an emotional time for my family and I with my final game at Anfield against Crystal Palace and then my last appearance away to Stoke City. But I’ve been blown away by the send-off I’ve been given by the supporters and I’d like to thank every one of you.

“It’s been very humbling and it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. It’s been an absolute privilege to represent this football club for so long.”

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The 34-year-old points to the dramatic Champions League final turnaround against AC Milan in 2005 as the highlight of his time at Anfield and is thankful for the support the fans have given him.

“Of course the pinnacle of my career arrived in Istanbul 10 years ago. That was the best night of my life. When I lifted the European Cup, there was no prouder man on the planet.”

“It meant so much to me to deliver that trophy for you. The supporters played such a big part in helping to inspire that famous comeback against AC Milan. I’ll never forget how they helped to lift our chins off the floor after that nightmare first half.”

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The ex-England skipper hasn’t bemoaned the extra responsibility that came with being the main man at such a big club but says it was something he enjoyed.

“People have often asked me about the pressure on my shoulders to deliver for Liverpool but I’ve never seen that as a burden. There’s been huge responsibility on me but I’ve always loved and embraced that. It’s been a massive honour to be captain of this club for so long.”

Gerrard rounded off his goodbye with a short and simple message that most Liverpool fans would agree is a fair reflection on the efforts he’s put in for the club.

“I’ve always given my best and tried to lead by example.”

Will Liverpool cope with life after Steven Gerrard? And will he enjoy his MLS experience with LA Galaxy?

Former Chelsea and Tottenham star says Gerrard will ‘enjoy’ a ‘growing’ MLS

Former Chelsea and Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini believes that Liverpool‘s Steven Gerrard is going to have a good time in the USA when he arrives to play for MLS side LA Galaxy in July.

“It’s a great club, great people. It’s a great city to live in. I think he (Gerrard) is going to enjoy it,” Cudicini said while talking on Sky One’s Soccer AM.

The Italian shot-stopper played one season for LA Galaxy in 2013 making 21 league appearances and keeping seven clean sheets on the way to a third place finish, before being eliminated at the conference semi-final stage of the MLS Cup playoffs.

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Cudicini is one of many people recognising the rapid growth of Major League Soccer and its fanbase. He has also warned Gerrard that he will have to adapt to the fact the game isn’t called football in the USA.

“MLS in general is growing very fast and people absolutely love soccer, like they call it, so he has to get used to the word soccer. A lot of kids and a lot of families at the stadium create an unbelievable atmosphere.”

The 41-year-old doesn’t feel that MLS is on the same level as European football just yet but he believes that with time and more top quality players heading Stateside, it will improve constantly.

“The level is not comparable to Europe of course, but as I said, it’s growing and the more players that go from here to America to play, and to in a way give an example to the kids coming up, the better it will be.”

Do you agree with Carlo Cudicini? Is MLS constantly growing?

Chelsea and Liverpool legends to have iconic status tested upon move to MLS

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard can expect contrasting emotions from MLS fans when they arrive in the USA according to lead writer and editor of NBC Sports’ ProSoccerTalk, Joe Prince-Wright.

Prince-Wright told BBC Sport that “the two legendary midfielders are likely to get vastly different receptions” from followers of MLS and Lampard is the one who won’t receive a completely warm welcome.

“Lampard can expect a hostile reception from hardcore MLS fans but that is likely to be temporary and given New York‘s shaky start to the season his arrival will be greeted with glee from NYCFC’s fans and head coach Jason Kreis. Lampard forging an instant partnership with David Villa will be key to the club turning things around,” said Prince-Wright.

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The 36-year-old Chelsea legend extended his contract at Manchester City until the end of the Premier League season which has delayed his arrival in the USA.

While Lampard will have to earn the love of MLS fans, Prince-Wright believes that Liverpool‘s Steven Gerrard will prove to be an automatic hit.

“As for Gerrard, his arrival will be lauded by the whole of MLS and his superstar status fits hand-in-hand with LA Galaxy‘s philosophy.

“Given that the core demographic of MLS fans is between 18 and 49, most of them will have grown up seeing Gerrard and Lampard, along with the other designated player Kaka, rule Europe and be dominant figures for club and country.”

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Despite the huge attention that will be drawn to Lampard and Gerrard when they arrive, Prince-Wright has warned that they must continue to perform if they want to remain fan favourites for the long-haul.

“Overall, the initial reception these two English superstars can expect will be hugely positive and TV ratings and media interest will go through the roof. But, and it’s a big but, they must deliver goals and moments of magic for the honeymoon period to extend through their Stateside adventure.”

How will Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard be welcomed into MLS?

Robbie Keane issues warning to Steven Gerrard ahead of LA Galaxy arrival

LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane has warned Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard of how competitive Major League Soccer is and that he will be expected to perform when he arrives in July.

“The problem is I think with people in Europe – and this won’t be Stevie’s case because I’ve already told him how difficult the league is here – is that people think they’re coming over here to finish their career and it’s a holiday, but when you play for the Galaxy, that’s not the case,” Keane told ESPN FC.

“You’re coming over here to win things, because that’s what is expected because we’re one of the biggest teams in the MLS and we have standards here. The league is a tough, tough league.”

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The Galaxy have struggled in the opening stages of the 2015 season with just three wins from their opening 12 games, leaving them seventh out of ten in the Western Conference and 11th overall in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Despite the slow start, Keane, who has been with LA since 2011, believes that Gerrard can improve the team and will be a success in MLS because of his incredible natural ability on the ball.

“His passing is incredible. He’s a player that can find someone’s feet from 50 yards and you wouldn’t have to move. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of assists from that, and we’re excited to get him here.”

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Keane and Gerrard, both 34, aren’t complete strangers to each other as they played together at Liverpool for the 2008/09 Premier League season.

As well as giving Gerrard a heads-up, the Irishman has also praised the rapid growth of MLS and is pleased that it is continuing to thrive, even since the departure of such a key figure in the league back in 2012.

“It’s only getting bigger and bigger, I think. It was big when I came over. The players certainly and everybody associated with the MLS, I think a lot of that goes down to David Beckham. The reason why I came was David was the one that got me here.

“I think David, like Tiger Woods did in golf, he changed the sport, he changed people’s salaries, he changed the growth where it’s getting bigger and bigger. I think the important thing was when David left was, ‘Can we keep that consistency?’ And to be fair they have.”

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Keane has only played four of the Galaxy’s opening 12 games having missed out through injury but is set to return for their next match against the Houston Dynamo on Friday.

“The update is I’ve been training for three days with the team and I’m ready to go for Friday’s game.”

Will Steven Gerrard be a success for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer?

LA Galaxy star frustrated by defensive struggles

Robbie Rogers‘ debut season at left-back for the LA Galaxy saw him impress in 27 competitive starts throughout a successful 2014 MLS campaign.

The 27-year-old moved to left-back last July having previously played as a left-sided midfielder, but has come in for some criticism of late as he has been partially at fault for defensive errors so far this season for Galaxy, which has frustrated him.

“It’s just been a little weird. There’s little moments where I think my decision making hasn’t been as good as I want it,” Rogers said while speaking to after his training session at the StubHub Center yesterday.

“It’s been a little frustrating because it’s just little mistakes that make a big difference, and I’m not used to that many in a row like that. It’s a little disheartening.”

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Rogers cannot afford to dwell on this ‘issue’ as his LA side travel to Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend with the Galaxy currently sitting in fifth having won just one of their opening four games and Rogers admits he still has a lot to learn.

“I need to work on the offside thing, and I was better with that the next game,

“Working as a unit defensively and the spacing between guys, staying the [holding] line and covering for guys, and then picking my times to go forward, as well.

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“Sometimes I feel like I’m going forward too much, and sometimes not going forward enough, I still need to get better at that,” Rogers added.

It is no surprise that as a former left-sided midfielder, Rogers has the tendency to move forward and his defensive qualities will continue to grow as he learns from the mistakes he’s made.

Is Robbie Rogers struggling as a left-back for LA Galaxy?

LA Galaxy ‘weren’t very good’ says head coach Bruce Arena

LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena hasn’t defended his team’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo at the StubHub Center on Saturday night and says they still aren’t “sharp enough” or “fit enough” yet.

“I didn’t like a whole lot on the night, we weren’t very good to be honest with you, we lost too many battles,” said Bruce Arena in his post match press conference.

He was very frank in his description of how his team performed and admitted that Houston “played harder” than the Galaxy and that “made the difference” in the game.

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The LA boss was also extremely disappointed with the defending for the Dynamo goal, especially considering the equaliser came just minutes after the Galaxy had taken the lead.

“We had a mental breakdown on a corner-kick, Robbie Rogers loses his man and it’s a goal.

“In a game like this where your opponent is sitting back and defending with numbers looking to get at you on the break, we’ve got to be better than that. To concede a goal shortly after we scored, that’s not good on our part.”

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LA Galaxy’s lacklustre passing was another concern to Bruce Arena, but he did credit the Houston Dynamo’s efforts in defence.

“Our passing on the night wasn’t good. Our backline didn’t pass the ball very well and I think that impacted the ability for the midfielders to have a better impact on the game.

“Overall I think on the night they [Houston Dynamo] defended pretty well.”

LA Galaxy are still undefeated after three games of the new MLS season having won one and drawn two.

They’re currently third in the Western Conference and their next game is a tough trip to DC United on Saturday, March 28.

Was Bruce Arena right to publicly criticise his LA Galaxy team?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: LA Galaxy

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the LA Galaxy will be looking to achieve this year.

LA Galaxy head into the 2015 season off the back of one of the most memorable campaigns in the history of the club. They won a record fifth MLS Cup title and said goodbye to the legendary Landon Donovan following his retirement. The Galaxy must ensure that Donovan’s retirement doesn’t have a negative impact on their performances on the pitch. Deciding how they will set-up in order to get the best out of the team once new signing Steven Gerrard joins in July will be crucial. The aim for 2015 will be to achieve at least the same again in terms of honours.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 2nd – P34 – W17 – D10 – L7

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What needs to change this year?

It’s not so much a case of what needs to change for LA Galaxy, but more how they can set about continuing from where they left off.  The 2014 season saw them lose just seven regular season games – the least out of any MLS team. Three of those defeats came in the opening eight fixtures, so a better start this time around will ensure they can be the early pacesetters.  The only disappointment from last year will be that they failed to win the Supporters’ Shield, so that will be one of their targets for 2015.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Steven Gerrard – Midfielder (Designated Player)

Outs: Landon Donovan – Midfielder/Forward, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Rob Friend – Forward

Key player: Robbie KeaneForward

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Robbie Keane‘s contribution throughout the 2014 season was astonishing. He is the captain, a leader of men and possesses bags of experience. He will have achieved hero status after his performance last year, including the famous MLS Cup Final winning goal. He will need to continue to take responsibility and guide his team along the way.

One to watch: Gyasi ZardesForward

The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect. Gyasi Zardes was very much the unsung hero last season, due to the attention given to Landon Donovan’s farewell season and Robbie Keane’s superb efforts. He scored 16 goals in the regular season campaign and is growing in quality with every second he spends on the pitch. The recent inclusion in the USMNT will only give him further confidence to act as a springboard for 2015.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 1st

Competition is going to be even higher in the Western Conference this season, but LA Galaxy still boast one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer. They’re certainly one of the strong favourites for the Supporters’ Shield and will also expect to retain their MLS Cup title.

How will LA Galaxy fare in 2015?

Should LA Galaxy consider taking Darren Bent to MLS?

Aston Villa forward Darren Bent has a wealth of talent in front of goal and will always find the net, but with a lack of playing time in the Premier League could he be tempted by a move to Major League Soccer?

He has found himself a little out of favour with the Midlands side and is currently spending time with Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan spell.

It could be the right time for Bent to take on a new challenge and MLS could be a great destination for him.

As we know LA Galaxy are still on the hunt for a replacement for Landon Donovan and it could be a great move for both sides if the Galaxy took a gamble on the 30-year-old.

Galaxy star Robbie Keane has played with Bent at both Tottenham and Aston Villa and so the pair could form a solid partnership in MLS if the Englishman were targeted.

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Bent is at a good age for a move stateside and can take many positives from other former Premier League strikers who are now thriving in Major League Soccer.

The likes of Keane and Jermain Defoe have set the league alight and are idolised by their club’s supporters as a result. For any striker this is a perfect scenario, as it boosts confidence to the maximum.

Bent has scored wherever he has played and he netted for current side Brighton just three days after joining on loan.

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MLS would offer him a great opportunity to enjoy his football and find consistent playing time, where he would probably play 90 minutes every game.

He has an impressive strike rate of almost one in two and with an outlet like him, LA Galaxy would find themselves in an even stronger position to challenge on all fronts once again this season.

The experience he can bring to any squad is worthwhile and he could also set a great example to up-and-coming young players.

Would Darren Bent be an MLS success if he were to move stateside?