Atlanta United (12-8-7) is looking to stretch their home unbeaten streak into double digits – while continuing their climb up the Eastern Conference standings – as they host the L.A. Galaxy (7-15-6) for the first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday. Here’s what Five Stripes fans can expect as they face the five-time MLS Cup Champions for the first time ever.
Eyes on Alessandrini
While the Galaxy haven’t hit their usual heights this season, no one in SoCal has contributed more to what they have achieved than Romain Alessandrini. The French midfielder is one of the best in the league at beating a defender on the dribble to start an attack. He has the end product as well, leading his team in goals (9) and assists (10) this year. He missed their weekend loss to Toronto, but put in man-of-the match performances in the two prior matches: a win over Colorado and a 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders. He’s the Galaxy’s spark plug, and suffocating him could go a long way to stopping the L.A. attack before it even gets started.
Dos Dos Santos
The Galaxy have invested heavily in one family: Mexican internationals Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos, two of the club’s three Designated Player signings. Giovani plays close to goal as a creator and scorer, and while he hasn’t quite reached the level he performed at last year, he’s still pitched in with six goals and an assist this year. Meanwhile Jonathan, who moved to Los Angeles from La Liga side Villarreal this summer, has played largely in the center of midfield as more of a deep-lying playmaker. He’s tidy in possession and is averaging around seven accurate long balls per match over his last three outings, constantly looking to switch the ball to the other side of the field and create a one-on-one situation on the wing. But while he does work hard on defense, he’s not a typical destroyer defensive midfielder. Atlanta could find success trying to overload him as well as his midfielder partners Joao Pedro and U.S. international Jermaine Jones on the counter.
The Galaxy possess the talent to challenge anyone in the league, but there is a reason they sit in second-to-last place in the Western Conference: their defense. That’s due in part to losing their defensive leader and captain Jelle Van Damme earlier this summer after his transfer back to his home nation of Belgium. They signed French free agent Michaël Ciani as his replacement, but things haven’t improved much. They’ve conceded 52 goals this season – second-worst in the league – and have let in 15 goals in their last seven matches. Toronto ran up a 4-0 score line over the weekend without their starting duo of Giovinco and Altidore in the lineup.
The 7:00 p.m. kickoff will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and the Watch ESPN app, as well as the club’s radio partners, 92.9 The Game and La Mejor Radio. There are still tickets available for the mid-week matchup. Be there in person to cheer on the Five Stripes by reserving your spot here.