Los Angeles FC
New York Red Bullsvs
The New York Red Bulls will travel across the country to take on Los Angeles FC in a battle between two of the best teams in Major League Soccer.
The match will kick off Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET inside Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California, and will be shown via ABC and ESPNDP.
The New York Red Bulls are second in the Eastern Conference with 26 points and a 7-5-4 record, just behind the first-place New York City FC, who is 8-3-3 with 27 points.
Before Wednesday’s clash between the two New York squads in the United States Open Cup, the Red Bulls had won three of their last five matches, most recently defeating Toronto FC 2-0.
Their next step towards total dominance will be converting their losses into draws, but they are still one of the clear-cut best teams in the league.
Lewis Morgan leads the team with seven goals in 15 matches, a decent return for a striker; the Red Bulls are tied for the third-most goals in the conference with 26, having scored at least twice in three of their last four matches.
The team has also conceded the joint-third-fewest goals in the conference at 17, though this is a decent margin behind the totals of the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC (11). Their goal difference of +9 is tied for the second-best in the East as they have dominated nearly every statistical category this season.
The Red Bulls like to set up in either a 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 and place heavy emphasis on creating chances in the final third, a luxury that they can afford with how resolute defensively they are.
The team hardly ever looks to dominate possession, which opponents can use as a gateway to creating goal-scoring opportunities and limiting New York’s time in their box, but they have been effective nonetheless.
LAFC has the most points in the league with 30 and leads the Western Conference with a 9-3-3 record, fulfilling many of the offseason predictions that entered round them, being the favorites to win the title.
This is quite the turnaround for the team, considering it finished ninth in the conference last year— credit for the resurgence goes to new signings and the overall discipline of the team, which has been on the mark in nearly every aspect of the game.
Carlos Vela is the most obvious goal-scoring threat, with six goals in 14 matches; the experienced Mexican forward is tricky on the ball and has a keen sense of awareness, which allows him to penetrate small gaps and create angles for shots or passes that many other attackers do not have the vision for.
LA is also the only team in the league to record 30 combined goals and has scored in each of its last five outings. On top of that, they are tied for the third-best defensive record in the West, having allowed just 17 goals thus far.
LA tends to center around a 4-3-3 formation, prioritizing advancing the ball down the wings with overlapping runs from the midfielders and full-backs.
Like the Red Bulls, they are nothing special in the possession statistics, mostly because of the space between their midfield and both attacking and defensive lines, but they function well as a unit and have great cohesion when attacking their opponents’ goal.
Despite the closeness in total points, LAFC is a decent favorite in the impending matchup.
Both teams’ resumes are comparable this season, so the match will come down to which team can execute better and impose itself on the game, and as much as it makes sense to go with LA, the Red Bulls have a sneaky chance of pulling off the upset.
Their 3-4-2-1 could prove especially useful if they can successfully break LA’s line and get the ball up the pitch, which many teams are afraid to do.
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