The first of the two teams from Los Angeles to visit Columbus in quick succession come to town on Wednesday night, as new head coach and former Columbus Crew SC legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto returns to MAPFRE Stadium with the LA Galaxy.
Schelotto brings with him a Galaxy team that has been firing on all cylinders, sprinting to a 7-1-2 record which translates as second-best in all of Major League Soccer. LA is looking to bounce back after a 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
It’s been a tale of two teams so far this season. The Galaxy have won four of their previous six games and Columbus is looking to avoid going six games without picking up a point.
Before Columbus can look ahead to Saturday’s contest against Los Angeles Football Club, the Galaxy is their first test. Let’s take a look at how they stack up.
LA Galaxy at a glance
Scoring leader: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9)
Assist leader: Diego Polenta (3)
How they play
Schelotto has preferred a 4-3-3 attacking-style formation for every match LA has participated in this season. Only four changes made since their opener versus Chicago Fire, the Galaxy play very open and fluent. They rely on quality build-up and clinical finishing through their catalyst, world-renowned striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
2019 MLS MVP?
One of the few players that can possibly one-up Wayne Rooney is his former teammate at Manchester United, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He moved to the Galaxy in 2018 and has made an immediate impact in MLS.
Since his arrival in Los Angeles, Ibrahimovic has scored 31 goals in 35 appearances. He is fifth all-time in league history for most goals through a player’s first 30 matches with 26, tied with Josef Martinez and Carlos Ruiz. On the season he has tallied nine goals, trailing LAFC’s Carlos Vela who has 11 (and who Columbus will have to deal with on Saturday).
Zlatan has also acknowledged how he intends to break Martinez’s record for most goals in a single season at 31. If you’re one to know Ibrahimovic, he tends to be a man of his word.
How the Crew win
It’s been well-documented that Columbus has been on a scoring draught. While that still may be understating the fact that they have been unable to put the ball in the back of the net, scoring isn’t going to be how the Black & Gold plan on winning this game.
The Crew will win if the backline can hold their own. Their defense has looked like shells of their former selves in recent weeks, conceding 10 goals in their last five contests. When a player like Ibrahimovic comes into town, it’s crucial to neutralize him.
The Galaxy have no issues when it comes to scoring goals with Ibrahimovic leading the charge. It’s worth noting that LA is 6-0-1 when Ibrahimovic gets on the scoresheet. It may sound obvious, but stopping Zlatan will give the Crew their best chance to end this dismal run they are currently on.