Match Preview

Preview: Sporting KC visits LA Galaxy on Saturday

240615-vsLA-MatchPreview-DL

Sporting Kansas City at LA Galaxy
2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 18
Saturday, June 15 | 9:30 p.m. CT (9:40 kickoff)
Dignity Health Sports Park | Carson, California

Broadcast Schedule:
Apple TV | MLS Season Pass
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

Sporting Kansas City will kick off the second half of the club's MLS regular season campaign this Saturday on the road against the LA Galaxy. The Western Conference clash is set for 9:40 p.m. CT at Dignity Health Sports Park in southern California where the hosts are unbeaten in seven matches this season (4-0-3).

While the Galaxy did not play last weekend due to the FIFA international window, Sporting Kansas City returned to winning ways with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Seattle Sounders at Children's Mercy Park to snap a 10-game winless run and seven-game losing streak in league play.

Johnny Russell continued his excellent run of form with the game-tying goal and the Scottish skipper now has three goals in his past four starts, including goals in back-to-back matches. Russell's seven career regular season goals against Seattle are his most against any MLS opponent, a mark he will have a chance to equal this Saturday after scoring six goals in his previous nine appearances against the Galaxy.

Alenis Vargas was a finalist for MLS Player of the Matchday this week as the 20-year-old made an impressive impact off the bench to lift Sporting past Seattle. Within a minute of entering the match, the Honduran winger drew a second yellow card on Sounders defender Reed Baker-Whiting then went on to capitalize on the man advantage with an 85th-minute game-winning goal.

Khiry Shelton, playing in a new role at right back for a fourth time in his last five appearances, earned the assist with a perfectly-placed pass into the path of Vargas. Shelton has now tallied nine game-winning assists for Sporting KC, which ranks ninth most in club history and second most among active SKC players.

Saturday's showdown - the first of three games in eight days for SKC -- is a rematch of a March 23rd meeting between Sporting and the Galaxy when LA earned a 3-2 victory at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting took a 2-0 lead into halftime with goals from Nemanja Radoja and Willy Agada before the Galaxy roared back in the second stanza with three goals to secure all three points.

The two sides played to a 2-2 draw in the last match-up at Dignity Health Sports Park nearly a year ago on June 21, 2023. Alan Pulido struck for both SKC goals in the stalemate, opening the scoring with an early header and converting a 90th-minute penalty to rescue a road result.

The all-time series between the two MLS charter clubs is nearly deadlocked with LA holding a narrow 27-26-18 lead in 71 encounters. Sporting is currently amidst a five-match losing streak away from home, however has gone 7-3-7 against LA since 2015 with a 3-1-3 record at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Sporting Kansas City centerback Robert Castellanos grew up just 50 miles from the stadium in nearby Palmdale, California and played for LA Galaxy II in 2017. In addition, Sporting KC midfielder Memo Rodriguez was a member of the LA Galaxy for the first half of the 2023 season before being traded to Austin FC.

Former teammates on the U.S. Men's National Team, Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes (198 regular season wins, 3rd overall) and LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney (129 regular season wins, 10th overall) each rank among the most successful coaches in MLS history. Notably, Vermes is 5-1-6 in the dozen previous regular season managerial match-ups with Vanney.

Vanney's squad is led by Serbian striker Dejan Joveljiฤ‡ - a U-22 Initiative Player with nine goals and two assists this season -- as well as MLS All-Star Riqui Puig who has scored in three straight games and now has 14 goal contributions (six goals, eight assists). In addition, Designated Players Joseph Paintsil (four goals, five assists) and Gabriel Pec (four goals, four assists) were acquired prior to the 2024 season to bolster a Galaxy side that has missed the playoffs in five of the last seven seasons.

Puig (groin) is questionable on the LA Galaxy player status report and fellow midfielder Gaston Brugman has been ruled out with a knee injury. On the opposite side, Sporting Kansas City will be without five players -- Danny Flores (concussion protocol), Felipe Hernandez (administrative leave), Logan Ndenbe (ACL), Daniel Salloi (ankle) and Remi Walter (knee) -- while Dany Rosero remains questionable with a hip injury.

One of 13 MLS matches on Saturday, LAvSKC will be available to watch on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers in addition to local radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM with live audio streams available in the Sporting KC App. Pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action on Saturday, including a watch party at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power and Light District with food and drink specials starting at 7:30 p.m.