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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy

The Lions look to make it back-to-back wins at home.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Friday once again Mane Landers, and following Orlando City’s 5-1 walloping of FC Cincinnati last Sunday it’s a happy Friday. With a little luck the men in purple will be able to keep the good vibes going and make it two wins in a row at home.

This week the Lions will welcome the LA Galaxy to town for their yearly meeting with the California club. The last time the teams faced off, the Galaxy emerged victorious with a 4-3 win. I spoke with Mike Gray of SB Nation’s LAG Confidential to get the skinny on this year’s Galaxy team.

The Galaxy recently signed Favio Alvarez on loan from Atletico Tucaman in the Argentinian first division. He only just made his debut in last weekend’s game against the Colorado Rapids so there hasn’t necessarily been a ton of time to get a feel for him. Nonetheless, what were your early impressions of him in his 75 minutes on the field against the Rapids?

Mike Gray: Favio enjoyed a solid debut, showing flashes of his playmaking ability in the final third. LA’s newest No. 11 also brings urgency in front of goal: If the Galaxy’s midfield has been too reluctant to shoot this wasn’t a problem for the Argentine, who belted off five shots, four outside the area.

Ultimately, his production was hampered by LA’s anemic attack that night. It will be fascinating to see how Alvarez contributes once Zlatan returns.

It was a very good start to the season for the Galaxy and before the end of April the team was second in the West before a rough patch of form saw them fall to fifth. What’s been going right for the team so far?

MG: Obviously Zlatan’s nine goals have helped, but the central midfield triangle of Joe Corona, Sebastian Lletget, and Jonathan dos Santos has been instrumental to the Galaxy’s early success by setting the tempo of the match with their collective technical skill and lulling opponents to sleep in possession, as well as shielding the Galaxy back line. The defense has also improved thanks to the play of Uruguayan center back Diego Polenta and the re-emergence of David Bingham as a top goalkeeper.

As I alluded to above, things have been tougher for LA in May with the team currently on a four-game losing streak. What hasn’t been clicking for the Galaxy as of late and what needs to change?

MG: With Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s experience as a former MLS Cup winner and MVP, it can be easy to forget the Galaxy boss is still a newcomer to managing in this league. Even the great Tata Martino made some rookie mistakes and the Boca Juniors legend has followed suit.

During a busy stretch of back-to-back three-game weeks, GBS opted not to rotate his squad, and LA has looked exhausted the past few matches. The central midfield trio so effective at shielding the back line has become vulnerable, with many of the goals the Galaxy have conceded during the losing streak coming from attackers beating the midfield without much resistance.

An over-reliance on Zlatan to shoulder the scoring burden has rendered the attack predictable and easy to defend, as was the case vs. the Rapids when the Galaxy whipped in cross after cross with little success. Of course, LA has also suffered from missing all their Designated Players at some point.

Are there any call-ups, injuries, or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

MG: Zlatan is serving the second of a two-game suspension for violent conduct.

(Note: no score prediction given.)

Thanks again to Mike for that insight into the Galaxy.