LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

LA GALAXY vs CHICAGO FIRE
STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
March 6, 2015 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #1)
7 p.m. PT (UniMas)

Major League Soccer’ 20th season kicks off on Viernes de Futbol as the defending champion LA Galaxy play host to the Chicago Fire on Friday evening at StubHub Center. It was just three months ago that the Galaxy lifted the MLS Cup Trophy for a record fifth occasion, winning MLS Cup 2014 against the New England Revolution. They take on a Chicago Fire club looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Though the game will be broadcast in the United States on Spanish-language channel UniMas, an English-language version of the broadcast can be accessed via the SAP button (click HERE for instructions), and both English and Spanish-language broadcasts will be available online at deportes.univision.com.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 175 games; FC/gm: 23.4; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 34; pens: 51

SUSPENDED: none
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (39 meetings): Galaxy 19 wins (0 shootout), 51 goals … Fire 15 wins, 45 goals (1 shootout) … Ties 5
AT LA (19 meetings): Galaxy 10 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals … Fire 6 wins, 20 goals (1 shootout) … Ties 3

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/1: CHI 1, LA 1 (Larentowicz 68 – Donovan 74)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The Galaxy have not lost to the Fire since 2010, a 3-2 Chicago victory in Carson on Aug. 1. In the six meetings since, the Galaxy have won with two draws. The teams played to a 1-1 tie at Toyota Park in their only meeting last season.
  • The Fire have not defeated the Galaxy in Bridgeview since 2008, with two draws and three losses in home meetings since.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. CHI: P18 W11 L4 D3 … Frank Yallop vs. LA: P24 W9 L8 D7

LA GALAXY
The defending MLS champion LA Galaxy kick off their new season off an historic fifth MLS title, having defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time on their own ground barely three months ago. The Galaxy finished with the second-best league record in 2014, with 61 points, three behind Supporters’ Shield winners Seattle Sounders FC.

TEAM NEWS

  • The defending MLS champion Galaxy concluded their preseason with a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in the first match played at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Saturday, the goals coming from Robbie Keane and Jose Villarreal. The Galaxy ended the preseason with a 5-2-0 record.
  • Here’s the Galaxy team for the preseason finale: Brian Rowe; Dan Gargan, Leonardo (Todd Dunivant 46’), Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers (Andre Auras 83’); Bradford Jamieson IV (Jose Villarreal 63’), Juninho, Kenney Walker (Rafael Garcia 71’), Stefan Ishizaki; Robbie Keane, Alan Gordon.
  • Three first-team regulars – Jaime Penedo, Baggio Husidic and Gyasi Zardes – as well as trialist Edson Buddle, all missed out on the San Jose match due to injury.
  • The Galaxy begin the 2015 season riding a 16-game league undefeated streak at StubHub Center, their last home loss in regular season play coming in last year’s season opener, a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on March 8.
  • “I don’t think that we’re quite there yet to be honest with you. Some players have played 90 minutes which has certainly helped for next week, but I don’t think that we’re there yet,” said Keane. “This is what preseason is for though because the results don’t matter. … You want to put things into practice for the upcoming season, but conceding goals especially on set pieces shouldn’t happen.”
  • Before the Earthquakes match, the Galaxy embarked upon a two-match European tour. They defeated Republic of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers FC 1-0 in Dublin, on a first-half goal from Mika Vayrynen. Previously, the Galaxy lost 2-1 to Hammarby IF in a match played in Stockholm, Robbie Keane converting a penalty for the lone goal.

TRANSACTIONS IN: GK Brian Perk (re-signed); MF Rafael Garcia (re-signed); MF Steven Gerrard (free, arrives in July)
TRANSACTIONS OUT: MF Landon Donovan (retired); FW Rob Friend (retired); GK Brian Perk (option declined); DF James Riley (option declined); DF Kyle Venter (waived); FW Chandler Hoffman (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft); MF Marcelo Sarvas (traded to Colorado)

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire are looking to make their first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs in three seasons when they start their second campaign under head coach Frank Yallop. The Fire recorded an MLS-record 18 draws a year ago on their way to a ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference with 36 points.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire ended their preseason schedule with three draws in three matches in the Simple Invitational in Portland, including draws against both the host Timbers (1-1) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1-1), the finale on Saturday.
  • The Fire concluded their preseason with a 1-0-4 record. The Fire set an MLS record with 18 draws in 34 league matches in 2014.
  • Here’s the Fire team from the preseason finale: Sean Johnson, Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Gehrig, Joevin Jones, Harry Shipp (Kingsley Bryce 82), Chris Ritter (Matt Polster 72), Shaun Maloney, Matt Watson (Michael Stephens 67), Kennedy Igboananike (Shahdon Winchester 68), Quincy Amarikwa.
  • The match against the Timbers in the Portland event was the first of the preseason against an MLS side for the Fire. The club’s lone tally came through an own goal.
  • The Fire concluded the preseason with three goals from their five official preparatory matches. Quincy Amarikwa and trialist Shahdon Winchester netted goals, the third coming from an own goal.
  • The Fire conceded just two goals in their preseason matches, beginning the preparation matches with three consecutive clean sheets, all against European opposition (Norwich City FC, Queens Park Rangers [both England]; Stabaek IF [Norway]).
  • “I think there have been multiple back lines and everyone who's played has been part of the clean sheets,” defender Jeff Larentowicz said. “I think at this point the coaches are looking for the best combination ... Some guys played longer minutes so I think we're moving toward a back four, but again everybody is kind of in the mix there.”
  • Designated Player David Accam missed out on the final two preseason matches after suffering a groin injury in the match against Stabaek IF in Portland. Accam returned to Chicago for treatment ahead of the team’s return following the tournament.

TRANSACTIONS IN: MF Collin Fernandez (Homegrown); FW Kennedy Igboananike (transfer from AIK); DF Joevin Jones (transfer from W Connection); MF Michael Stephens (free); DF Eric Gehrig (trade from Orlando City); FW David Accam (transfer from Helsingborgs); DF Patrick Doody (Homegrown); DF Adaílton (transfer from Bahia); FW Guilherme do Prado (free); MF Shaun Maloney (transfer from Wigan); MF Alex (re-signed); GK Jon Busch (free); DF Matt Polster (SuperDraft)
TRANSACTIONS OUT: MF Logan Pause (retired); FW Robert Earnshaw (option declined); FW Matt Fondy (option declined); DF Marco Franco (option declined); DF Patrick Ianni (option declined); MF Benji Joya (loan expired); DF Hunter Jumper (option declined); DF Steven Kinney (option declined); MF Victor Pineda (out of contract); DF Gonzalo Segares (option declined); FW Florent Sinama-Pongolle (option declined); MF Grant Ward (loan expired); DF Bakary Soumare (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft); MF Sanna Nyassi (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft); FW Juan Luis Anangono (transfer to Universidad de Guadalajara); GK Kyle Reynish (traded to New York Red Bulls)