Due to safety considerations resulting from inclement weather and forecasted thunderstorms, tomorrow’s game has been POSTPONED. A new match date is currently being determined for the next earliest availability. This will be communicated as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
|Moneyline (Regular Time)|
|Insights Backheeled Insights proprietary algorithm combines a variety of factors, using machine learning to weigh variables. It is solely focused on MLS data.||46.2%||26.0%||27.7%|
What The Book Sees
The books see LAFC as favorite here. Specifically, the opening line suggests LAFC are projected to be around +15 xGD better than the Galaxy this season. LAFC certainly have the credentials for the rating to make sense: they finished around +18 xGD better than the Galaxy in 2022, and won both MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield. They come into this new season with 10 returning starters and have added one of the league's best center backs.
It's likely that the public money will push toward LAFC given their success last season, giving the Book incentive to price them high to start. They're also helped by the fact that this isn't a true away game, instead being held at a neutral site.
What Insights Sees
While Insights rates LAFC as the best team in MLS, there are two other factors at play. First, the model assumes a stronger regression for LAFC (it’s always safe to assume a team who was as dominant as LAFC was last year will regress). Second, it simply rates the Galaxy higher than the Book does. Insights’ model rates the LA Galaxy as the second best team in the league ahead of this new season, based on a combination of 2022 team performance and 2023 projected aggregated player quality. The Galaxy will have another year under manager Greg Vanney and a full season with midfielders Riqui Puig and Gaston Brugman.
LAFC are missing two possible starters, though the difference is likely negible on the projections. LAFC will be without starting goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who picked up an injury in last seasons's MLS Cup. In his place will be John McCarthy. Given that LAFC are one of the best defensive teams in the league, limiting opponents to low xG and shot quality numbers - and that Crepeau seems to have been a below-average shot stopper based on xG and xG-On Target numbers - we are projecting that change to have an immaterial effect. LAFC will also be without center back Eddie Segura. Given his replacement will also be among the best league, we see this different as negligible, as well.
The Galaxy will be without Chicharito in this game. That is a loss for them, but given how dangerous Dejan Joveljić has been in limited minutes, there may not be a noticeable decrease in production up front for LA. DP attacker Douglas Costa did not play in the last preseason game, though he probably would not have been first choice against LAFC anyway.
Advantage: LA Galaxy
After losing to LAFC in the Western Conference playoffs last year, the Galaxy will want to prove that they can take points off their rivals right from the jump. They will likely bring more energy to this game.
LAFC had more competition for starting spots last year than they do this year. That, mixed with their success last year, could lead to a flatter start to the season than many expect.
Under Steve Cherundolo, LAFC have developed into a true danger in attacking transition. They finished 2022 averaging the most xG from transition sequences that began after winning the ball in the attacking half. Their ability to press and transition as the Galaxy try to build could be extremely valuable.
The Galaxy want to keep the ball: they averaged the fourth-most possession in MLS last season. If they can work the ball between the lines and find their stars, they'll cause LAFC problems. But with the largely poor passing that we saw from their center backs in 2022, their ability to play through LAFC's press is in question.
Both teams have game changers and there's reason to think that either team could win with a single moment. The key player for the Galaxy is Riqui Puig: he added more value with his passing on a per-game basis than any other player in the league last year and averaged the most touches per game in all of MLS. His counterpart in the key halfspaces, LAFC defensive midfielder Ilie Sanchez can struggle to cover the space behind his midfield teammates and in front of the center backs. If LAFC's midfield tries to counter-press and close space in midfield, and if the Galaxy deal with the pressure, we project that Puig will get the better of Sanchez in the Galaxy attacking phases.
On the other side, LAFC have plenty of top end talent, as well. Carlos Vela and Dennis Bounga will start on the wings. Starting CF Chicho Arango departed for Liga MX in recent weeks, which creates a question mark, but his likely replacement, Kwadwo Opoku, seems set to be a breakout star. With that, the Galaxy have questions in their backline. Without Julian Araujo, the Galaxy will likely use Kelvin Leerdam, a 32 year old who played less than 500 minutes at right back. They also started 19 year old Jalen Neal at center back in the last preseason game.
Postponed due to inclement weather.