The New York Red Bulls are expecting a prepared, hungry opponent this Sunday evening, especially given the recent run of results from a strong Los Angeles Galaxy side.
The Galaxy sit in third place in the Western Conference, a team that dropped key points in winnable games early in the season. Yet Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch knows that his counterpart this weekend, Bruce Arena, will have his team ready to play and compete at a high level.
The evidence for this is the run of form for the Galaxy over the past two months.
In their last seven league matches, the Galaxy haven’t lost and have taken 15 points. Include the U.S. Open Cup and they have six wins in their last nine matches. There is just one loss in all competitions dating back to May 28.
Against a team known for having impeccable preparation, Marsch doesn’t look at this as necessarily a challenge or a measuring stick going up against Arena, the most successful head coach in the history of MLS.
“I don’t look at as I’m trying to match wits with Bruce. I look at it as just preparing our team to play against a good team at [their] home, trying to identify what LA is good at and how we will alter certain things that we do so that we’re prepared for that much,” Marsch said on Friday.
“As for Bruce, I know that he is very good at preparing his team for big games. I think they know that this will be a good challenge; I think both sides are excited with what the game will entail. Being on national television and everything, there will be a lot of eyes on this game. He’ll have his team ready to go, that’s the thing I know most about Bruce. His team will be ready to throw everything at us.”
Since their last loss in league play on June 18, one of the catalysts for the Galaxy’s form has been Steven Gerrard. The former English international has been solid in his play with a goal and four assists.
And when he’s not setting up teammates or scoring, he is nonetheless putting his stamp on the game as he controls the run of play in the Galaxy midfield.
His strong performances this year come after a disappointing inaugural season in MLS in 2015 where he scored twice and had three assists in 13 games. A midseason signing a year ago, Gerrard has now settled into the league and the Galaxy squad.
“Steven Gerrard’s an incredible pro. He’s been an incredible player and leader. Sometimes when you come in the mid-term it’s not easy to acclimate so quickly. But once you get a little more fitness and you understand the league a little bit more, it’s natural that guys start to show what they’re about,” Marsch said.
“All their big name additions fully understand what this league is about and have been very good in their latest stretch. We’ll be prepared for a very good team.”
The Galaxy haven’t lost this season at the Home Depot Center, posting a 6-0-4 mark. On the flip side is the Red Bulls away form, with just seven points this year from 12 matches on the road.