Match-Preview Atlanta United vs. L.A. Galaxy Sunday, July 24

Atlanta United heads to the West Coast for a meeting with L.A. Galaxy on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.

Atlanta United is coming off a three-match homestand that started with a tough loss to Austin FC but ended with two straight strong team performances. The club beat Real Salt Lake, one of the top teams in the Western Conference, 2-1 in a midweek match, then came from behind to draw Orlando City 1-1 during Heineken Rivalry Week.

The team hasn’t collected many road points this season, however it has a chance to close out July doing just that – first, against L.A. Galaxy on Sunday followed by a visit to Chicago next weekend. In these two crucial away matches, the team will look to play the same way it closed out the homestand.

“I think the chemistry of the team is just better,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said during media availability on Thursday. “We’re back, and I’m just happy that happened. And obviously, we’re just waiting for the next game. We always live and die for the next game.”

Gonzalo-Pineda_Training_July-22

Matchday Conditions  

The conditions in Los Angeles are expected to be warm on Sunday, but the temperature will drop with the late kickoff time. The forecast is partly cloudy with temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The Stars In L.A. Galaxy 

L.A. Galaxy is a Western Conference club based in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. The Galaxy was announced as one of the 10 charter clubs of MLS and began play in the league’s inaugural season in 1996. For the first several seasons, the club played home matches at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. 

The Galaxy is one of the most acclaimed clubs in MLS. In its 26-year history, the club has won four Supporters’ Shield titles, two U.S. Open Cups and one Concacaf Champions Cup. The club has won a record five MLS Cup titles, including three in four years (2011, 2012, 2014). L.A. Galaxy has more all-time regular season wins in MLS than any other club in history. 

Like the name, L.A. Galaxy has boasted many stars of the sport on its roster including David Beckham (2007-2012), Landon Donovan (2005-2014, 2016) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (2018-2019). 

  • Home venue: Dignity Health Sports Park 
  • Main colors: navy blue, white, yellow 
  • Head coach: Greg Vanney 

A Brief History  

In three all-time meetings between the two clubs, Atlanta United has dominated the series. The 5-Stripes own a 3-0-0 record against L.A. Galaxy and all three wins have been clean sheets. 

The last meeting between the two sides was in August 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Behind two own goals and a goal from Josef Martínez, Atlanta United beat the Galaxy 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd. Miles Robinson was named to the MLS Team of the Week for the defensive performance and shutout win.

Miles-Robinson-2019-AtlantaUnitedvLAGalaxy

Atlanta United’s defense historically holds up against the Galaxy. L.A. has yet to score a goal against Atlanta in the series history. If Atlanta United can keep L.A. off the scoresheet on Sunday, it’ll be the first time the Galaxy have ever suffered four straight shoutout losses to a single opponent in the club’s history.

“I think we have to show that extra bit that we’re missing isn’t just keeping possession or playing out of the back, it’s scoring and not conceding,” defender George Campbell said. “We’ve been pretty solid the past few games but I think we need to keep that up and show in the next game on the road that we can be a team that’s tough to beat and be the better team on the ball.”

The Chicharito Connection

Sunday marks the first MLS meeting between the two clubs in three years, which also means its first time Atlanta United has faced one of the world’s best: designated player Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.

Chicharito is Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer. Before joining MLS, he played for a variety of prominent soccer clubs around the world such as Chivas Guadalajara, Manchester United and Real Madrid. The forward has tallied over 200 goals during his career for both club and country, making him one of the most recognizable faces of Mexican soccer.

“He’s a reference in Mexico, he’s a very well-known, accomplished player,” Atlanta United defender Juanjo Purata said. “So for me, it’ll be a very nice challenge to face him.”

Chicharito grew up playing in the youth system at Chivas Guadalajara and made his debut for the club in 2006. His time at Chivas overlapped with Pineda’s. Atlanta United’s head coach recalls being there for Chicharito’s debut and refers to Chicharito this day as a good friend.

“I really like to see the development of him because I still remember the first few training sessions with him and the passion he showed for every training session,” Pineda said. “And then, he's had a great, great career and everything through hard work and just a lot of grinding in the early stages. I’m very happy for his success.”

Atlanta United On The West Coast

Atlanta United hits the road for the first time since the trip to New York. The trip to the West Coast this weekend will be one of the longest for Atlanta of the season and is the latest kickoff time on the schedule (9:30 p.m. ET).

Even after positive results in its last two matches, Atlanta United still sits below the playoff line in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points, which shows the competition within the table and the value that six points could mean for Atlanta.

The team has a chance to get the road trip off right on Sunday but will need to be ready for a L.A. Galaxy side determined to find a result. The Galaxy have lost three straight matches, most recently getting shutout 2-0 by Colorado Rapids last weekend, so expect the club to be hungry for some points.

“Just because we’re playing on the road, there’s no reason the function of the way the team is playing has to change,” Purata said. “So we want to go there with that same mindset. Yes, so far the three games I’ve played have been at home, but we know this is an important week for us and we’re going to try and get six points.”

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
L.A. Galaxy
Atlanta United
Possession
54.8% (4th)
58.7% (1st)
Duel Percentage
47.3% (25th)
52.6% (3rd)
Pass Percentage
83.9% (5th)
85.3% (1st)
Key Passes
203 (3rd)
224 (1st)

Players To Watch 

Juanjo Purata – The defender on loan from Tigres has adapted to MLS at an impressive pace. In just three appearances for Atlanta United, he’s provided depth on the backline and last week, he showed his aerial prowess, scoring his first career MLS goal on a header. The goal evened the match 1-1 against rival Orlando City and was Atlanta’s first goal off a set piece situation since April. The equalizer also earned Purata a spot on the MLS Team of the Week.

Juanjo-Purata_Training-July-22

Dejan Joveljic – The forward from Serbia signed with L.A. last fall and has been on a streak as of late in his first full season. In May during the club’s 4-1 win over Austin FC, he became the first player in MLS history to contribute to four goals as a substitute. During that stretch, Joveljic scored in five straight home matches for the Galaxy, netting seven goals in those five games. The run was just one shy of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s, who scored in six straight home matches for L.A. in 2019.

Other Tidbits 

  • Atlanta United will be wearing the BLVCK Kit on Sunday.