Galaxy-Sporting Kansas City Preview
LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has warned his players to avoid being "manipulated" by Sporting Kansas City when the Western Conference rivals face off on Wednesday.
The Galaxy recovered from two goals down at half-time to draw 2-2 with FC Dallas at the weekend, stretching their unbeaten run to four matches.
Vanney's men are still not assured of an MLS Cup Playoffs spot with three regular-season games remaining and face a difficult test against second-place SKC at Children's Mercy Park.
Sporting won 2-0 in the reverse fixture three months ago and, learning from that loss, Vanney is aware of exactly what it will take to overcome Peter Vermes' side this time around.
"They won 2-0 at our place early in the year. We were happy with our performance but not necessarily the result," he said.
"We know they're a good team and we can't let them manipulate us. We have to close them down, make things difficult and get on the ball to make them defend their goal.
"It's about outcompeting the opposition. Whatever you've gained over the past 30 or 31 matches, you just can't get outcompeted."
Sporting beat Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 last time out and can potentially move top of the Western Conference should they win this game in hand against the Galaxy.
Just as importantly, Sporting can clinch a home playoff tie with a point on Wednesday.
"Being able to get three points against Seattle and secure a playoff spot was a huge objective of ours," Vermes said. "We got it and I'm proud of the guys. They deserved it.
"They worked hard. They weathered different situations within the game that weren't always Seattle and they did a really good job with it."
Sporting Kansas City - Johnny Russell
Russell's scoring streak continued with the winner against Seattle, meaning he has now scored in seven successive MLS matches - the fifth-longest run in the competition's history.
Russell will be out to prolong that incredible run against Galaxy, whom he has netted three times against in five previous career appearances.
LA Galaxy - Javier Hernandez
The Mexican striker has endured an injury-plagued season but now has a run of games under his belt and has scored in two of the Galaxy's last three matches.
Hernandez is tied for seventh in MLS this term with 14 goals, despite missing three months of action, before which he had scored 10 goals in 10 outings.
- This will be the first meeting between Sporting and the Galaxy in Kansas City since May 2019, when the Galaxy won 2-0. That victory was the Galaxy's first win at Sporting since 2007, having failed to win any of their 11 visits between (D6 L5).
- Sporting Kansas City enter matchday 33 just three points behind Seattle for top spot in the West with a game in hand. It would be the third time in four years that Sporting finished with the best record in the West and the fifth time they had have the best record in a conference under Peter Vermes (2011, 2012 in East).
- The Galaxy are unbeaten in four straight matches (W2 D2) for the second time this season, also going four in a row without defeat in July-August. Including the playoffs, the Galaxy have had at least one five-match unbeaten run every season from 2004 to 2020 except for 2008.
- Russell's seven straight games with a goal is the longest streak in MLS since Carlos Vela scored in 10 straight matches (including playoffs) for LAFC in August-October 2019.
- The Galaxy scored from the penalty spot for the third straight game in their draw with Dallas on Saturday, the second time in club history that LA has scored from the spot in three straight games (also in 2018). No team in MLS history has scored a penalty in four consecutive league games.
Updated October 26, 2021