With three points already in hand on this two-game road swing, it already feels like a successful trip for Orlando City (7-7-13, 34 points), but a draw at the StubHub Center against MLS Cup favorite LA Galaxy — who haven’t lost at home all season (7-0-7) — would be huge. But the Lions are going all that way, so they might as well win the thing.
LA will be in a frenzy this weekend with Landon Donovan coming out of retirement to help Bruce Arena’s injury-plagued side. Orlando City doesn’t have an equivalent player it can pull out of retirement, but if not for health issues, it would be nice to see Yordany Álvarez back. Anyway, just the signing of Donovan should give the Galaxy a lift, even if he doesn’t play on Sunday (and he might). So, Sunday’s game looks to be a tough task for Jason Kreis’ team.
It’s been a long time since these two teams met last summer. What has changed with the Galaxy since last year’s meeting in terms of personnel and how have these changes affected LA’s play in 2016?
Mike Gray: Dude, just thinking about the roster makes me dizzy. Last year, Orlando City put a spanking on the Galaxy, but LA started Bradford Jamieson IV and Nacho Maganto up top, so definitely a second-string squad.
In 2016 the roster is completely different. LA has an embarrassment of riches in attack with Giovani dos Santos, Steven Gerrard, and now Landon Donovan. Also, it can't be stressed enough: Jelle Van Damme has been incredible all season and is a legitimate Defender of the Year candidate.
This floors me as an Orlando City fan, but the Galaxy actually have more draws (14) than the Lions (13). Are most Galaxy fans seeing a team that has lost only one of its last 14 matches, or a team that has won only one of its last eight?
MG: It's been well-documented the Galaxy have struggled to build any consistency in attack this season, as Bruce Arena has had trouble fitting all of LA's dangerous offensive weapons in the starting lineup cohesively. Lately, however, the offense has woken up, led by a resurgent dos Santos.
It's almost as if less is more following the losses of Gyasi Zardes and Nigel de Jong — Lletget has thrived in the center, where the Dutch international used to roam, dos Santos is scoring again, and don't underestimate how important Robbie Rogers' return to the lineup has been for LA.
So, you had to pick this week to bring Landon Donovan back, did you? How are Galaxy fans reacting to this news? Where does he fit into the current lineup? And can he realistically be ready to go Sunday against Orlando City?
MG: A lot of the love for Landon is nostalgic. Even though anything can happen, Galaxy fans are realistic enough not to get too hyped about Landon coming back. Even if Lando simply contributes as a super sub, that's a positive for the fans and the club alike. Based on current personnel and Donovan's physical shape, LD should be utilized in the midfield.
After training this morning Bruce said there was "an outside chance" Landon would be in the 18 come Sunday, so we'll see. Knowing Bruce, that can mean anything.
Can you please let us know about any injuries or suspensions that will keep players out of Sunday’s match? Also, can you give us your projected starting lineup and final score prediction?
MG: Questionable — Jelle Van Damme, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane
Out — Gyasi Zardes (broken fifth metatarsal)
Starting lineup: Brian Rowe; Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, Daniel Steres, Robbie Rogers; Jeff Larentowicz, Baggio Husidic; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Robbie Keane.
Final score: Galaxy 3 - Orlando City 2
Big thanks to Mike Gray of LAG Confidential for stopping by during a busy double game week and giving us an update on the LA Galaxy.