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Preview: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Los Angeles Galaxy and Los Angeles FC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Major League Soccer's two Los Angeles sides will begin their league campaigns against one another on Sunday, as Los Angeles Galaxy host Los Angeles FC.

The visitors come into the new campaign as defending champions, after triumphing over Philadelphia Union in the MLS Cup final in November.

Match preview

Coming into the 2023 campaign, Los Angeles Galaxy will continue their search for a sixth MLS Cup title, having last triumphed on the domestic front in 2014.

Following a disappointing 2021 term, they returned to the playoff picture last season, finishing fourth in the Western Conference with 50 points from their 34 matches before getting past Nashville SC in the first playoff round as Julian Araujo netted the only goal of the game on the hour mark.

That booked them a conference semi-final tie with Los Angeles FC, but Greg Vanney's side were unable to get past their rivals, eventually falling to a 3-2 defeat as Cristian Arango hit the decisive goal in injury time after Dejan Joveljic had drawn Galaxy level in the 85th minute.

Now turning their attention to the new season, Vanney's men come into Sunday's meeting on the back of a mixed run of friendlies, having won two of their six outings, including a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC last time out, in which Efrain Alvarez and Marco Delgado got on the scoresheet, after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Portland Timbers and New York City FC.

They will now aim to avenge last season's playoff defeat to their city rivals and kick off their MLS campaign with a three-point haul on home turf this weekend.

The visitors meanwhile, begin the defence of their first MLS title after rounding off a strong 2022 season by triumphing in the Cup final in November.

With 21 victories on the board from their 34 league matches, LAFC finished at the summit of the Western Conference with 67 points, 11 more than second-placed Austin FC, granting them entry into the playoffs in the Conference semi-finals stage, in which they eventually scraped past LA Galaxy in injury time.

That booked a Conference final tie with Austin, and Steve Cherundolo's side advanced in much more comfortable fashion, dishing out a 3-0 beating thanks to goals from Arango and Kwadwo Opoku and a Maxi Urruti own goal, before meeting Philadelphia Union with the title on the line.

After the game went to extra time tied at two goals apiece, their opponents went ahead through Jack Elliott deep into injury time of the second added period, but Gareth Bale would pop up with the leveller in the eighth added minute to force a penalty shootout, which Cherundolo's men eventually triumphed in to come out on top.

Now on the back of consecutive wins over Toronto and San Diego Loyal to wrap up pre-season, Los Angeles FC will hope to make a fast start to the new MLS term and retake their position at the top end of the Conference for the second straight year.

Los Angeles Galaxy pre-season form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Los Angeles FC pre-season form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Los Angeles Galaxy could be missing key forward Javier Hernandez, who suffered an injury in training recently after hitting 35 goals over the last two MLS seasons, while full-back Julian Araujo will also not feature after departing for Barcelona.

In Hernandez's expected absence, Dejan Joveljic should lead the line, with new signing Tyler Boyd hoping to feature out wide in a front three, after Efrain Alvarez and Memo Rodriguez were deployed in the final pre-season friendly.

Former Barcelona man Riqui Puig will continue to play a key role in the midfield, likely alongside Mark Delgado and Gaston Brugman, with Jalen Neal and Chris Mavinga set to partner up in the middle of the back four.

Los Angeles Galaxy will no longer be able to call on Gareth Bale, after the Welsh attacker announced his retirement during the off-season, while last season's top scorer Cristian Arango has departed for Pachuca, but they do still have star man Carlos Vela to lead the line, with the club captain having contributed 12 goals and 12 assists in the MLS last time around.

Veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini will offer important experience in the middle of the back four, and he should be joined by Jesus Murillo in front of goalkeeper John McCarthy.

Kellyn Acosta and Jose Cifuentes were mainstays in midfield throughout the triumphant campaign last time around, and they will again play crucial roles in the engine room, with new signing Timothy Tillman likely completing the central unit.

Los Angeles Galaxy possible starting lineup:
Bond; Leerdam, Neal, Mavinga, Edwards; Delgado, Brugman, Puig; Alvarez, Joveljic, Rodriguez

Los Angeles FC possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Hollingshead, Murillo, Chiellini, Palacios; Acosta, Cifuentes, Tillman; Opoku, Bouanga, Vela

We say: Los Angeles Galaxy 0-1 Los Angeles FC

With several notable changes to the two sides' XIs from last season, Sunday's curtain-raiser promises to be an intriguing encounter, but we just lean towards the defending champions carrying their momentum into the new term and coming out on top.

How to watch

You can watch Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here. body check tags ::

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Read more about Javier Hernandez Efrain Alvarez Marco Delgado Steve Cherundolo Greg Vanney Cristian Arango Dejan Joveljic Kwadwo Opoku Maxi Urruti Jack Elliott Gareth Bale Tyler Boyd Memo Rodriguez Riqui Puig Gaston Brugman Mark Delgado Jalen Neal Chris Mavinga Carlos Vela Giorgio Chiellini Jesus Murillo Jonathan Bond John McCarthy Kellyn Acosta Jose Cifuentes Timothy Tillman Julian Araujo Football
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Premier League Table

Eastern Conference

1Inter MiamiInter Miami18105342271535
2FC CincinnatiCincinnati1610332316733
3New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls178542923629
4New York City FCNY City179262620629
5Columbus Crew157622415927
6Charlotte FCCharlotte FC177461818025
8Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia164842723420
9Nashville SCNashville164752022-219
10DC United174762531-619
11Orlando City164571624-817
12CF MontrealMontreal164572335-1217
13Atlanta UnitedAtlanta164482221116
14Chicago Fire173681729-1215
15New England RevolutionNew England1541101227-1513

Western Conference

1Real Salt LakeSalt Lake1796236191733
2Los Angeles FCLos Angeles169342819930
3Minnesota UnitedMinnesota Utd168532821729
4Los Angeles GalaxyLA Galaxy177733125628
5Vancouver WhitecapsVancouver167452419525
6Austin FCAustin176562125-423
7Houston DynamoHouston166461818022
8Colorado RapidsColorado176472931-222
9Portland TimbersPortland185673232021
10Seattle SoundersSeattle174672021-118
11St Louis City163942325-218
12Sporting Kansas CityKansas173592632-614
14San Jose EarthquakesEarthquakes1632112439-1511
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