Sporting Kansas City hits the road for back-to-back Western Conference road tests late in the season. First up, Sporting KC takes on the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. The match will begin at 7 p.m. CT on 38 The Spot and can be streamed live in the Sporting KC Mobile App or online at SportingKC.com.
Sporting has found success in recent years against the Galaxy, earning an impressive 7-2-4 record against the fellow charter club. Since 1996, the two sides have locked horns 67 times in the regular season, dueling to an even series with both sides pulling out 26 wins. There has been 15 regular season draws but just three scoreless draws all time.
Below are five things to keep in mind ahead of Sporting Kansas City's fixture with the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
After making his Sporting KC debut against LAFC and scoring his first MLS goal against the Galaxy, Erik Thommy continued to have the state of California's number after earning a spot on the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi for his performance against the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday. Thommy snagged a spot in the midfield after leading all players in shots (6), chances created (4), passing accuracy 96.7%), duels won (9) and recoveries (8).
The German midfielder has made five MLS starts for Sporting, tallying two goals. Sunday could prove to be his first MLS appearance in the Golden State after already facing all three teams at Children's Mercy Park. Since arriving in Kansas City, Thommy has been a focal point of the Sporting Kansas City offense and provided a spark leading to the current SKC form.
Sporting has won three of their last four matches, including back-to-back wins over the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes. Those two wins mark the first time this season Sporting has won two consecutive matches. Playing a significant role in Sporting's recent run of play has been the offense. Headlined by newcomer Willy Agada's five goals in five starts, forward Daniel Salloi's game-winning goal against San Jose and the play of team captain Johnny Russell, the Sporting KC attack has been surging.
Salloi inked an extension with Sporting earlier this season after signing as a homegrown in 2016. His match-winner in the 10th minute over the Earthquakes gives him 13 career game-winning goals, tied for most in club history with Sporting Legend Preki and Dom Dwyer. Agada scored his second career brace in Sporting's 4-1 win over Portland on Sunday, Aug. 21. His first career two-goal match came against the LA Galaxy the last time these two battled.
Last time against LA
Saturday, Aug. 6 the LA Galaxy came to Children's Mercy Park in search of crucial points away from home. Sporting Kansas City sent them home disappointed after 90 minutes of hard-fought MLS action. Thommy got the Sporting KC goal-fest started early, with a Goal of the Week presented by AT&T nominated volley inside the 18 past Jonathan Bond. Agada doubled the lead in the 40th after being denied by Bond once. The forward stuck with the play, sank the rebound and celebrated with Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes after VAR gave the goal.
The Nigerian's day was not done as he scored 10 minutes later in the fifth minute of stoppage time, thundering a centering pass into a wide-open goal. Chicharito struck twice late in the second half to make the match 3-2, but Showtime Salloi called game in the 95th with a deft finish inside the area after forcing a turnover. With the 4-2 win, Sporting handed the Galaxy keeper Bond his third straight loss in three matches against Sporting.
Campaign coming to a close
That defeat to Sporting put a damper on the Galaxy's playoff hopes but they have responded ferociously, picking up four straight results. They washed the Whitecaps 5-2, snuck a draw against Seattle, ran past the Revolution and tied Toronto on Wednesday night. With eight points in four matches, the Galaxy are in the midst of a playoff battle, one point back of the Portland Timbers but with two games in hand. With eight matches left for LA they cannot afford to leave any points on the table.
Sporting has six matches left and is nine points out of the playoffs. Their recent form of inspired soccer has lifted them out of the basement of the West, overtaking San Jose last week. With six matches left and nine points to gain Sporting needs as many points as possible entering the final stretch of the 2022 season.
Looking at LA
The Galaxy are championed by former Mexican International star Chicharito who paces the club with 12 goals this season. Not too far off him is forward Dejan Joveljic and his 10 goals. They have been assisted mainly by Julian Araujo and Raheem Edwards who have seven and six assists respectively. Their squad has been bolstered by the arrival of Riqui Puig after he spent four years with Barcelona in La Liga. Puig picked up his first MLS goal on Wednesday night against Toronto, the leveler in the match.
As a club, the Galaxy have had two fatal flaws this season. They are 7-0-2 when leading at half and 10-1-3 when scoring the first goal. However, their totals drop to 0-10-1 and 1-10-1 when trailing at halftime or conceding the first goal. They had the lead Wednesday at Toronto, went down and clawed out a point on the road. They tend to hang around matches as well, scoring 17 goals after the 75th minute, an MLS high. It is always an exciting matchup when Sporting and LA meet and the 68th MLS rendition is set for Sunday at 7 p.m. CT.