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SBI MLS Game of the Week: New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy



For the only time this regular season, the Los Angeles Galaxy travel from sea to shining sea to take on the New York Red Bulls in an important early-season matchup on Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2).

The LA Galaxy and NY Red Bulls, teams that have both started the 2015 season well, will duke it out in the SBI Game of the Week Sunday in Red Bull Arena. The Galaxy enter Sunday’s affair on the heels of a two-game win streak while the Red Bulls are MLS’ only undefeated team left.

LA take a 3-2-2 record across the United States and into Harrison, New Jersey, while the 3-0-2 Red Bulls hope their strong start continues. And with West Coast-East Coast bragging rights and the opportunity to continue early league success on the line, both sides are sure to come out guns blazing.

Here’s a closer look at the SBI Game of the Week:


The Galaxy and Red Bulls have shared the spoils in recent years, with no team claiming ultimate superiority over the other.

In 2014, LA dominated the Red Bulls in Carson, California. Landon Donovan was the mastermind behind the 4-0 thrashing, as the now-retired star bagged a goal and assisted the other three — two from Robbie Keane and one from Gyasi Zardes.

However, the last time these two met in Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls were the victor, pulling out a last-second victory when Tim Cahill headed home the lone goal of the game in extra time.

Since 2008, there have been no draws between these two sides. From 2009 to 2014, LA have the slight advantage, winning six out of nine contests, but the Red Bulls have won two out of the last three.


The Red Bulls are rolling in 2015, with head coach Jesse Marsch and his men being the only undefeated side left in MLS.

The combo of Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips has been one of the most dynamic and fruitful duos in the 2015 campaign, as Sam leads NYRB with three goals, and BWP has two goals and three assists to his name.

However, the team’s success can be attributed to the midfield play, led by captain Dax McCarty and anchored by the strong play of offseason acquisitions Felipe Martins and Sacha Kljestan. Like BWP, Martins has three assists in 2015, and the former Montreal Impact midfielder is asserting himself as a major piece in the NYRB puzzle. Kljestan is the player that rounds out this strong midfield core. His lone goal on the year is no indicator of his importance for the team. Marcsh knows Kljestan’s abilities, having played four seasons with the midfielder at Chivas USA, and the former RSC Anderlecht midfielder is doing well in the Red Bulls’ high-press system.

On the other side of the ball, the Galaxy’s successes can be credited to more of a team effort rather than individual performance. Jaime Pendo has been crucial in goal for LA so far this season, even being honored as SBI MLS Player of the Week for his 10-save performance against the Seattle Sounders in Week 6, but week in, week out, there has been a new player to step up and be the hero. Jose Villarreal, Robbie Keane, Alan Gordon, Omar Gonzalez and Baggio Husidic have all come up big at one point or another thus far.

“The Galaxy deserve a lot of respect,” McCarty said of the upcoming match. “I think they’ve set the standard in this league over the past five or six years. They’ve been very consistent. They have a very, very good coach, who knows how to get the best out of them.

“Obviously, right now, I don’t think they’ve been playing their best, but they certainly still get good results, and they have experienced guys, so we expect a very good test, probably one of the tougher games we’ll have all year.”

Zardes only has one goal on his scorecard this campaign, but he found the back of the net in last season’s contest and will be called upon again to produce this time around. He and Bradford Jamieson IV will be the duo up front for LA, especially after the 18-year-old starred in the Galaxy’s most recent 2-1 win over Sporting KC.

“In the past, when you’ve played against LA, you pay a lot of attention to guys like Landon Donavon and Robbie Keane, then Zardes can beat you because he’s talented,” Marsch told reporters ahead of Sunday’s match.

“Now, Landon’s not there, not sure if Robbie Keane will be available, so a lot of it falls on his shoulders to create. Some of the play in attack, I think he’s capable of it, and we need to make sure that we limit his chances to being in open space and have availabilities around the box.”

The challenge for LA, aside from being on the road, will be attempting to breakdown and control the midfield. If the Vancouver Whitecaps match was any indicator, the Galaxy have struggled to control matches against strong midfield cores. The Whitecaps deployed a 4-2-3-1, which is what NYRB have been playing and doing well with this season, and the Galaxy struggled to stop the Whitecaps in that formation on the way to a 0-2 loss.


Neither side enters the Week 8 matchup with players out due to discipline, but there are a handful of injuries that could sway the edge in the direction of the Red Bulls.

Most notably, Keane will be out this weekend, as the Irish international is still dealing with a groin strain that saw him miss out on the Galaxy’s last win against Sporting KC. Brian Perk, Kenney Walker, Todd Dunivant will miss the game, and Leonardo and Villarreal are also expected to miss.

In good news for LA, Edson Buddle may return to the fold, as he has been recovering from a hamstring injury.

New York only has to deal with Roy Miller and Ronald Zubar being out of the picture in this one.

What are your thoughts on the SBI MLS Game of the Week? Will the Galaxy produce a result in Red Bull Arena? Do you think the Red Bulls will stay undefeated?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’ll never forget seeing (with 66,000+ others) that 5-4 slugfest between the Gals and the Bulls at Giants Stadium in 2007. It was Beckham’s 1st game and Bruce Arena was coaching the Red Bulls. Not sure there will be as much scoring in Sunday’s game but I hope it is as entertaining.


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