The Galaxy began their season by coming back twice to defeat Inter Miami 3-2, while the Red Bulls squandered an early second-half lead last week, losing 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City.
It was a memorable debut for new manager Greg Vanney as his Galaxy scored three goals in less than 20 minutes to win their opener last week.
The former Toronto FC coach is back in LA looking to turn this franchise back into a powerhouse after the Galaxy finished with their lowest-ever regular-season points total in 2020 (22).
One of the most positive signs from their opening match was that they were able to battle back and win, which is already a welcomed sight for a team that won only once last year after conceding the opening goal.
Vanney has strong ties to the Galaxy, the team that gave him his start in professional football when they drafted him 17th in the inaugural MLS College Draft in 1996.
One of their most significant flaws a season ago was their play defensively, conceding 46 goals, and as evidenced from their opening match, that area still needs fixing.
Over the past two seasons, the Red Bulls have been stuck in neutral, finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference each time and twice exiting the playoffs in the opening round.
In 2021, they are doubling down on manager Gerhard Struber, who implements the same high-pressing style that has made RB Salzburg in his native Austria so successful lately.
Judging from their performance last weekend, it may take some time for the players to adopt this new way of playing, which is no surprise seeing as they had four players making their MLS debut against Sporting KC.
There are plenty of new faces to this team that finished first overall in the 2018 regular season, but a lot of the newcomers are not well known or established players, which means developing this team could take some time.
Galaxy striker Javier Hernandez had two goals in their opening game and was named the MLS Player of the Week, while Sacha Kljestan got his name on the scoresheet for the first time since March 23, 2019, when he scored the winning goal against the New York Red Bulls.
Ethan Zubak provided a much-needed spark for the Galaxy off the bench in their opener, and he could start alongside Hernandez in the attack.
The Red Bulls made a big move this week, acquiring midfielder Frankie Amaya from FC Cincinnati, and the 2019 first overall pick will hope his skill and pace are precisely what this team has been missing.
Defender Jason Pendant remains out with a shoulder injury, and Daniel Royer will hope to be in the starting lineup, needing just two goals to pull even with the great Thierry Henry for third all-time in club history.
Los Angeles Galaxy possible starting lineup:
Bond; Araujo, Steres, Williams, Villafana; Dos Santos, Lletget; Alvarez, Vazquez; Zubak, Hernandez
New York Red Bulls possible starting lineup:
Carlos; Duncan, Nealis, Long, Gutman; Davis, Diarra; Amaya, White, Clark; Fabio
We say: Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls have won their last two meetings against LA, but the Galaxy have an experienced coach with a proven track record of turning teams around.
New York appear to be on the right path, but the experience of LA and the potency of Javier Hernandez upfront should be enough to carry the day.
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