The Vancouver Whitecaps are set to face the LA Galaxy in Leagues Cup action. A win of any kind will see Vancouver advance to the next round. The Galaxy are not very good but even not very good teams are more likely to win at home, so I guess we’ll see. LA played midweek against Club Leon, falling 1-0, so the Whitecaps will be hoping that they are fatigued.
The Galaxy have been dealing with sanctions this season that have limited their ability to sign players. Unsurprisingly, the result is a team that is not that good. They are second from bottom in the West. They have underscored their xG pretty significantly so they’re not quite as bad as their overall record suggests but they still are not that good overall.
It’s kind of impressive the Galaxy has managed to be this bad considering they have two of the best midfielders in the league in Riqui Puig and Gustav Brugman (After I finished writing this preview it came that Brugman has picked up a meniscus injury that will require surgery. A massive blow to the Galaxy’s chances). Puig is well known for his ability to progress the ball and create in the final 3rd. Brugman is a little less heralded but he’s an excellent defensive midfielder who can also progress the ball from deeper areas of the pitch. Up front they have Preston Judd and Dejan Joveljic, both of whom are pretty good, though Jovelijc is responsible for a lot of the xG under performance. But the Galaxy play a 4-3-3 and they have almost no scoring from wide areas. Their best performing regularly playing winger is Tyler Boyd. Boyd has 4 goals, 1 assist, and 0.39 xG+xA/90. Not terrible, but pretty underwhelming for the team’s top winger.
Defensively things are also not great for the Galaxy. They have given a lot of minutes to defenders who are simply not that good. Take a look at the G+ of their defenders who have played at least 500 minutes.
That’s a lot of negative numbers! Recently they have leaned more on capable youngster Jalen Neal and they started Tony Alfaro, recently acquired in a trade from NYCFC, against Leon. So the Whitecaps might not get the benefit of facing a truly awful defence. Still though, the Galaxy have a bit of a glass chin.
The Whitecaps just need a win to advance. Teams seem to be taking the Leagues Cup seriously so I suppose we should be excited about that. It seems to me that going on a deep run in the tournament might actually be detrimental due to the sheer number of fixtures you would have to play. But at the same time, going out in the group stage wouldn’t be good because that would mean almost a month without any competitive fixtures. What would even do during that time? Organize friendlies with other eliminated teams?
In any case, the Whitecaps are at a slight disadvantage as the road team but they are better than the Galaxy overall and the Galaxy will be more fatigued having played midweek (though they didn’t have to travel). The most interesting thing to me will be what formation Vancouver chooses to play. Schuster suggested that they would be bringing in new signings to better facilitate the 3-1-4-2. But the time to make those signings is rapidly dwindling. So, will Sartini persist with that, or will we see a return to the Christmas tree? The ‘Caps don’t have any new injuries or absences to speak of (Ahmed out, Brown questionable) so we should start to see what Sartini sees as his best XI going forward.
Oh, and also Isaac Boehmer is starting this one apparently.