Match Preview: Union hoping to get road trip back on track against surging LA Galaxy

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Sometimes you just lose to a team that plays better than you, and that’s what happened last Sunday afternoon against Atlanta United as Union kicked off their toughest road trip of the 2023 Season with a 2-0 loss. After being blanked in the first of 3 games on the road, Union will now travel to Los Angeles to try and get their road trip back on track against a confident LA Galaxy side, who’s coming off a 2-1 El Traffico win against cross-town rivals LAFC. This game against Galaxy now feels much bigger than it did a week ago if Union want to walk away from this road trip with some points under their belt and momentum swinging their way.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union vs LA Galaxy preview

Okay so let’s just get the bad news out of the way right off the bat. Union’s history against LA Galaxy? Bad. Really, really bad. In 12 meetings, Union has 1 win, 3 draws, and 8 losses. They’ve been outscored by a total of 28-10 across those 12 games. The last and only time Union have beaten LA Galaxy was with a 2-1 win on July 4th of 2012, over a decade ago. It’s easy to say a Union win is long overdue.

2023 MLS Season so far

Let’s be honest, it’s been a wild year for LA Galaxy, and we’re only about halfway through it. The pre-season started with really high hopes after the way last season ended. Galaxy had ambitions to make further steps in being a contender, and everyone was excited to compete and see Galaxy as one of the best teams in MLS yet again. That is, until the battle between Galaxy supporters groups and Galaxy Front Office killed the momentum.

The Galaxy didn’t get off the mark to start the season the way they had hoped, having zero wins in their first 7 games and only earning 3 points across that same stretch of games, Galaxy fans not only had a front office to be unhappy with, but now they had Luke-warm play on the pitch to go along with it. Things didn’t get much better for Galaxy though, winning just 2 of their first 14 matches. Something needed to change, and in late May of this season, Galaxy and President Chris Klein finally decided to part ways.

Since that time, LA has started turning things around, having not lost in their previous 6 matches, with 4 draws, and 2 wins, most recently against LAFC in front of the biggest crowd in MLS history. It’s safe to say the energy around LA Galaxy has changed since Chris Klein’s departure, and Union is next in the way.

Coming into this game, despite their recent run of positive form, Galaxy still sits pretty low in the standings. 4 wins, 7 draws, and 9 losses are only good enough to have you 19 points, 13th in the West, or second to last in the conference to be exact. Galaxy have scored the 4th lowest amount of goals in MLS (20), but are in the top 10 in Expected goals total (28.0), and 2nd in total shots on target (104).

In addition to that, Galaxy has the most passes completed in the league, with both Riqui Puig and Gaston Brugman taking up the top 2 spots for passes completed in the league. Between the season-ended injury of Chicarito and the loss of form from Dejan Joveljic, Galaxy is underperforming in the goal-scoring category.

Tyler Boyd leads all Galaxy players with 3 goals, while Riqui Puig and Douglas Costa co-lead the assist column with 5 a piece. Putting balls in the net hasn’t been the only issue for Galaxy, as they currently sit in 3rd to last in most goals conceded with 32.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union


For me, the X-Factor in this game is pretty easy to highlight from a Galaxy perspective. It has to be Riqui Puig. Although Riqui Puig had a bit of a slow start to a season in which he had aspirations of putting up MVP-like numbers, he’s really starting to find his best game as of late.

Riqui Puig co-leads Galaxy in Assists (5), leads in Non-Penalty Expected Goals + Assists (6.3), Progressive Carries (94), Progressive Passes (213), Shots (52), Shots on Target (19), Completed Long Passes (154), Through Balls (18), Passes that Switch the Field (19), Shot Creating Actions (96), Goal Creating Actions (6), Touchers in the attacking 3rd (444), Successful Take-Ons (68), Carries (1164), Total Carrying Distance (8326 yards), Progressive Carrying Distance (3899 yards), Progressive Carries (94), Carries into the final 3rd (66), Passes Received (1389), and fouls drawn (41).

For Union, it has to be someone that can counteract the threat that Riqui Puig brings to the game. I’m looking for Jose Martinez to have a big game in order to keep Riqui Puig from having too much time and space on the ball.

Jose Martinez leads Union in Tackles (38), Tackles in the defensive 3rd (21), Dribblers Tackled (24), and is near the top in Blocks, shots blocks, passes blocked, interceptions, touches, and recoveries. The way in which Jose Martinez can impact the midfield is going to be a big factor in who walks away from this game with points.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union


As far as lineups go, I think we’ll see a very similar lineup to the one we saw in Atlanta last Sunday night. With Andre Blake and Damion Lowe still, out on International Duty, there are some holes still being plugged in the Union lineup.

Additionally, while he is progressing through his injury quite well, it seems like Saturday might be just a bit too early for Kai Wagner to return to the lineup and next week’s midweek matchup in Nashville seems like the safer bet for his return.

So with that, we’ll probably see the same 11 rolled out on Saturday night. Bendik in net. A backline of Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, and Mbaizo. A Midfield of Jose Martinez, Leon Flash, Ale Bedoya, and Daniel Gazdag. And Michael Uhre and Juliana Carrana up top.

This is going to be another tough game for Union. LA is feeling themselves a bit now, especially after being LA Galaxy in El Traffico in front of the biggest crowd in MLS history. But maybe, hopefully, Union will catch LA Galaxy while they’re still a bit hung over from Wednesday’s win over LAFC.

At this point, Union needs to come away with at least a point for this road trip to feel like anything short of a disappointment heading into Nashville. I’d love to see a win, and I really do think Union can win this one, especially with Galaxy going all out midweek.

But a 1-1 draw will suffice in my mind here. Take the draw on the road, head to Nashville, and see if you can’t scrape out 3 points there. But just don’t lose this game, especially not without putting up more of a fight than you did against Atlanta.

Don’t miss Union take on LA Galaxy live from LA on Saturday night at 10:30 pm EST via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union