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Scouting The Opposition: LA Galaxy’s key players to make an appearance?

Manchester United is set to take on Los Angeles Galaxy in the first match of 2017/18, a pre-season fixture that precedes more high-profile matches against the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. However, unlike those sides, not many people are aware of the types of threats Galaxy can pose against United, and what to look out for over the course of the match.

Most United fans will know LA Galaxy as the club David Beckham left Europe for, as they are the leaders of this generation in terms of growing MLS talent. Since then, Beckham has long retired, but they have become the home to many European footballers looking for the luxurious lifestyle of California late in their careers, with players such as Steven Gerrard (also gone), and now Ashley Cole playing for them.

Unfortunately, though, they’re no longer anywhere near the pinnacle of MLS, sitting eighth in the Western conference and sixteenth overall in a campaign that doesn’t look likely to earn playoff football unless they improve significantly. However, they still could pose a threat to United at their best, and represent a good starting point in a pre-season tour that could get more difficult. Here’s what to expect from LA Galaxy.

Galaxy typically lines up in an attack-heavy 4-2-3-1 with three traditional attacking midfielders, but they haven’t quite yielded the output expected going forward, scoring only 28 goals after 18 MLS matches and ranking twelfth in the league in shots. They’ve also paid the price defensively, conceding 32 goals, the third-highest in MLS, and ranking thirteenth in tackles and eleventh in interceptions.

In their most recent match, they faced a heavy 6-2 defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake, who United play after LA Galaxy. One may believe Real Salt Lake are an upgrade on LA Galaxy and such explain the loss, but they’re even lower down the table than Galaxy. Lining up without star forwards Romain Alessandrini and Giovani dos Santos, hopefully these two players will feature in attacking midfield against Manchester United.

With dos Santos in attacking midfield, Galaxy’s 4-2-3-1 becomes somewhat of a traditional 4-4-2 with dos Santos just off a striker, which could be Jose Villareal or Jack McInerney, but could even be dos Santos as the lone striker given he has played more games up top than McInerney and Villareal combined. Seeing two strikers would mean that one directly tests Victor Lindelof, but as a lone striker, dos Santos could power Galaxy on the counter in a match where they will likely be forced to defend more than usual.

Alessandrini plays either as a natural left-winger or an inverted right-winger, and his eight goals and six assists in seventeen appearances represents one of the best tallies per game in MLS. Alessandrini (eight) and dos Santos (six) represent half of Galaxy’s goals this season, and without them, they pose almost no threat going forward.

Last time United played LA Galaxy, Ander Herrera stole the show as United won 7-1, and this time, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a similar result, as United players remain eager to impress Jose Mourinho ahead of another long season. Expect goals, attacking football, a good match, and young talent on display against an LA Galaxy side that won’t be able to cope.

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