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Know Your Enemy - LA Galaxy Edition

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In the final tune-up game of the pre-season and for the second straight match, the Vancouver Whitecaps play The LA Galaxy. The match will be played at the StubHub Centre in Carson California on Saturday February 24, match time 7:00pm.

The LA Galaxy are managed by Sigi Schmid, another of the most experienced coaches in MLS history. Schmid is in his second tenure with the Galaxy, after being rehired in June of 2017 when the Galaxy gave up on the Curt Onalfo experiment. Schmid is rebuilding the Galaxy squad after finishing last season tied with D.C. United with a league-worst 32 points (8W-8D-18L). The team has had a major overhaul in personnel since last season, fifteen players have left the club and ten have been added to replace them. Notable incoming talent is Ola Kamara (no relation to Kei), Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Brian Sylvestre, and #2 overall Superdraft selectee Thomas Hilliard-Arce. Notable exiting talent is Jermaine Jones, Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers.

The Galaxy are lead by designated players and brothers Jonathan and Giovanni dos Santos (Giovanni is officially listed as a forward, but seems to be playing as a #10 so far this pre-season). These two are ball hounds when The Galaxy are out of possession and will author play from the midfield once they get possession. The Galaxy midfield also boasts Romain Alessandrini and Emmanuel Boateng. This Galaxy midfield has great interplay. They use creative dummy runs to draw defenders out of position, then slice through balls to open teammates to exploit the gaps they have created. The Whitecaps midfield stoppers need to maintain their structure and disrupt their possession as often as possible; support from the wingers coming back to cover the wide parts of the pitch will also be required. The Galaxy’s offence will live or die on their midfields service to and support of Ola Kamara who is expected to be the lone striker at the top of the attack. Kamara’s strengths as a striker are his creativity, positioning, balance and his ability to strike with either foot. The Whitecaps Centerback’s will have their hands full as Kamara does an excellent job of finding gaps between CB’s and exploiting them and the Galaxy midfield will find his feet/head if he’s allowed much space to work in.

On the defensive side of the ball, Sigi and the Galaxy front office have basically rebuilt this defence from the Keeper out this season. Given the short amount of time they have had to gel as a unit, it is to be expected that there will be miscommunication and as a result, gaps in coverage. The Whitecaps need to jump all over these mistakes when they do occur. The Caps have been champions of springing the counter on teams during Carl Robinson’s tenure and this fixture should be no different. A matchup to watch will be Alphonso Davies against MLS newcomer Rolf Feltscher. Feltscher has struggled with his conditioning and pace to this point in the pre-season and Robbo should force Fonzie down the LW early and often to test Feltscher. It will also be interesting to see how the Galaxy defence deals with the size and strength of the Caps forwards Anthony Blondell and Kei Kamara. Blondell in particular has shown some chemistry with Christian Techera and this is something Robbo should try to develop more against a vulnerable Galaxy Defence.

Whitecaps all time record vs LA Galaxy 5W-4D-9L

LA Galaxy Roster

Goalkeepers: David Bingham, Brian Sylvestre, Defenders: Hugo Arellano, Michael Ciani, Ashley Cole, Rolf Feltscher, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Jorgen Skjelvik, Daniel Steres, Midfielders: Romain Alessandrini, Emmanuel Boateng, Servando Carrasco, Jonathan dos Santos, Baggio Husidic, Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget, Joao Pedro, Forwards: Giovanni dos Santos, Bradford Jamieson IV (out with post concussion syndrome), Ola Kamara, Ariel Lassiter, Chris Pontius