Before you all run into the comments, yes, the general idea for this preview is brought to you by the Number 8 because that’s the position both the New England Revolution and Los Angeles Galaxy found themselves in their respective conferences going into the week. Both teams face a crucial stretch as they meet tonight at Gillette Stadium for a rare Sunday Night evening game at 8pm.
Now the fact the Revs got bumped down to 9th after the Cincy-Crew draw yesterday does not change that New England could jump as high as 5th in the East with a win today at home. The Galaxy have several games in hand in the West and a win would move them above the playoff line and the Timbers though LA currently have a better points per game (PPG) mark than Portland currently.
But the number 8 was prominent for the Revs all week, with 8 games remaining and a contract extension for their #8 Matt Polster through 2025. After surviving a double game week in Canada, the Revs will now play their next three games at home over the next 8 days. After tonight’s game with LA, New England will host the Chicago Fire midweek before another Sunday night game on Sept 4th against NYCFC.
This stretch is not lost on head coach Bruce Arena, with the shorthanded Revs only claiming a point over their tough road trip in Canada, these next home games could set the Revs up to push for a home game in the playoffs or pile on the pressure to even claiming a spot in November.
Bruce Arena to @ZoandBertrand on Friday when asked how many points the #NERevs need from the next three games: “I would probably say we need 7 points.”— Seth (@SethMan31) August 27, 2022
The Revs host the Galaxy on Sunday, Chicago on Wednesday, and NYC the following Sunday
LA finds themselves in a similar spot, though they have only played 25 games and will have ten left to play after tonight. But unlike the Revs who have mostly stabilized from a poor start, the Galaxy have been in a rut, with a recent streak that saw them lose five out of six games. Though LAG did notch an impressive 5-2 win against Vancouver and a 3-3 draw with Seattle, their slump has seem them at least temporarily drop out of the playoffs.
As always, we chat with one of our good friends ahead of today’s contest and none other than SB Nation’s maven of LA soccer, Alicia Rodriguez of basically every LA site but LAG Confidential in particular. Today, we ask Alicia her opinion on a couple of Mexico international strikers and LA’s playoff chances this year and in the near future. As always be sure to check out my answers to their questions over on their site.
TBM: As SBN’s resident LA expert, what’s your take on the Chicharito/Vela situation with the Mexico national team? Is it possible we see one or both at the World Cup in a few months?
AR: I think Vela is retired from El Tri for good, and while Chicharito is trying to get back into the fold, I think his odds remain long. Vela has made it pretty clear he thinks his time is over, he wants to see the next generation step up, and I think he really doesn’t want to deal with all the attendant baggage of playing for his country. He likes being someone who can play for LAFC and hang out in Los Angeles, and he’s living his best life right now.
For Chicharito, it’s a different story. He has very much not retired from the national team, and after he broke team rules early in Gerardo Martino’s time as El Tri coach and refused to apologize for it for a few years, that seemed to seal his fate. Chicharito also had a downright bad 2020 season, and has dealt with injuries the last two years that kept him out of action for months. But he’s really been quite good last season and this, and after finally apologizing to Martino, his form and the number of Mexico attackers who keep getting hurt means he could make a comeback. In some ways it would be pretty fitting to see him come back for one more World Cup, but I still think it’s pretty unlikely, romantic as it would be.
TBM: The Galaxy were much higher in the standings a few weeks ago, but had a stretch losing five of six games, what went wrong in July for this team in particular?
AR: This season has resembled last season in some really frustrating ways. Last year, the Galaxy were in the playoff spots until literally the final minutes of Decision Day, when they slid all the way out and capped off a months-long slump that sunk their hopes of a new dawn. This season, they also started well, but the skid started earlier, as the defense that looked substantially improved has started shipping goals lately and the attack has been out of sorts for weeks. The big difference this season is the team looks to be stuck in a holding pattern. They’ll win a game in emphatic fashion, and then they’ll have a couple games where they lose and look awful. The only consistency has been inconsistency, and if they want to make the playoffs they need to actually be consistently good down the stretch here.
TBM: LAG are in 8th place, exactly where they finished last year. Is this a team that can make a deep playoff run or are they stuck in the midtable of the West for the time being? What is the long term outlook for the Galaxy going forward?
AR: They need to make the playoffs first, and that’s not assured. Most of the teams they’re playing down the stretch are also battling for a postseason slot, and even this game against the Revs is not a six-pointer, exactly, but a vital game even against a cross-conference foe.
But barring a long winning streak to end the regular season and a deep playoff run this year, I think the Galaxy are clearly in a state of inertia right now. I think Greg Vanney did a fantastic job with Toronto FC, a team that was a much bigger mess than the Galaxy when he took over, and he worked wonders there, but the same success is not coming for a club with high expectations. I can’t tell if his message isn’t coming across, players just aren’t executing (Designated Players Kevin Cabral and Douglas Costa have both been major disappointments this season), or if the malaise goes higher up. What I will say is a growing proportion of the fanbase thinks the mess really lies with club president Chris Klein, who has led through this era of futility and in the present really doesn’t look like things are going to change. Fans, who have understandably high standards, are fed up, and if the team misses the playoffs again this year, five times in six years, the pressure on him will increase. The issue is we don’t know if club ownership is at all inclined to replace him, so the fans’ discontent may or may not make any difference, and that is really quite concerning.
So some of the Galaxy outlook can be improved with a playoff berth and probably at least one win there, and anything short of that will lead to yet another inquisition at season’s end. We’ll see what happens!
GK: Bond; Araujo, Coulibaly, Williams, Edwards; Delgado, Brugman, Vazquez; Grandsir, Chicharito, Cabral
Prediction: 2-0 Revolution win
Injuries: Jorge Villafaña, Jonathan Perez