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PREVIEW: Fresh off first win of the season, SKC host LA Galaxy

Sporting Kansas City host the LA Galaxy in a battle of unbeaten Western Conference teams on Saturday. Who climbs the table?



Credit: Thad Bell

Los Angeles Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City

When: Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch: MLS Season Pass


LA: 1W-0L-3D

Last Result
2-1 W vs San Jose Earthquakes
LA: 3-3 D vs St. Louis City SC


Sporting Kansas City is riding high after a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Children’s Mercy Park which saw Peter Vermes’ squad take advantage of San Jose’s lack of pressure and weak defense on the wings.

That’s not to say SKC didn’t play well, but watching that game, aside from a few set pieces and the ending flurry of crosses into the box, it never really felt like the Earthquakes were going to spoil the party in the Blue Hell.

We also saw the second goal from an SKC forward come in the 29th minute when a fabulous give-n-go play down the right wing between Johnny Russell and Jake Davis ended in a beautifully chipped pass on a silver platter to Alan Pulido.

Pulido’s goal secured the win for Sporting who tied the game 10 minutes earlier thanks to a nice header from Dany Rosero that landed him on the MLS Team of the Matchday.

As electric as the home victory was, SKC now set their sights on the LA Galaxy who come to town boasting the same record, but with twice as many goals scored and arguably one of the tougher stretches of games to open a season.

For reference, here are LA’s first four matches:

Inter Miami at LA Galaxy: 1-1 D
LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes: 3-1 W
LA Galaxy at Nashville SC: 2-2 D
St. Louis City at LA Galaxy: 3-3 D

Four of LA’s nine goals have come from Serbian forward Dejan Joveljic, tying him for the lead league with Atlanta United’s Georgios Giakoumakis and Inter Miami’s Luis Suarez. And don’t forget about Joseph Paintsil, who has been wreaking havoc on wing defenders with his speed and abilities.

Sporting hasn’t had an easy opening stretch either, but goals have been hard to come by. I’m not a huge xG guy, but Sporting is last in MLS at 2.76, meanwhile the Galaxy are third in the league with 9.86, behind D.C. United (10.46) and Inter Miami (10.54).

Hopefully, the win over San Jose was the spark needed to at least create more chances and maybe, just maybe, it will propel Pulido onto a goal-scoring run like last year.

It won’t be easy, however, since there is a chance that Johnny Russell won’t play.

Though the goal count is low, SKC hasn’t allowed many either. While the Galaxy sit at a +2 goal differential allowing seven goals in four games, Sporting sit at +1 allowing only three.

Whoever you decide to credit for the defense at the moment, you’re probably right. At least through four games, both fullbacks, Jake Davis and Tim Leibold have been in great form. Andreu Fontas missed the match against San Jose, making way for a Robert Voloder start. I wouldn’t say he had a great match but having not played for the first team since October 7, 2023, I won’t be too hard on him. If he continues to improve and grow, he could be a consistent starter. I just don’t think that time is now. Rosero is Rosero. High energy, risk taker, physical presence, you name it. (Side note, here is an interesting thread about how SJ attacked Rosero during corner kicks last week).

It’s always close when the Galaxy and Sporting play. The last three meetings have ended in ties.

At least for right now, this is a huge matchup between two Western Conference clubs who want to build on their slow starts and avoid dropping points early. Especially at home, as is the case for SKC.


If Russell isn’t playing, I have a tough time believing Sporting will create enough offense to combat what they will see from the Galaxy. Stephen Afrifa is the likely starting candidate to replace Russell, unless Vermes makes more changes to the lineup.

Peter Vermes did speak highly of Alenis Vargas who came on in the 88th minute, but he’s away on international duty.

“He’s a really tough kid and you’ll see a lot more from him because he’s got something special, that kid.”

I don’t think Pulido and Daniel Salloi have shown to be able to create as much as the Scotsman has, meaning the brunt of the offensive work will come from Erik Thommy and the midfield. It’s not an impossible task, but against LA, the offensive gameplan will need to be in tip top shape.

Alright, enough stalling: 2-1 Galaxy

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