New York City FC are back on the road for a bicoastal clash with LA Galaxy.
Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Few people in this world can get away with referring to themselves in the third person but LA Galaxy’s no.9 is one such figure.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since joining the league in the spring of 2018 with 31 goals in 36 matches, although this will be his first match-up vs. NYCFC.
The Swedish striker missed the 2018 Home Opener at Yankee Stadium by a matter of weeks, but in Anton Tinnerholm and Dome Torrent, NYCFC have two men on staff who know the 37-year old better than most.
Tinnerholm has locked horns with Zlatan on the training field at international level, while Dome Torrent was part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff when Ibrahimovic called the Camp Nou home between 2009 – 2011.
On his day, whether LA are playing well or not, the 6ft 5in forward is a huge goal threat and can score at any time, so it will be a big test for Sean Johnson and co. to maintain their recent stingy form at the back…
Speaking of defensive solidity, NYCFC have been downright miserly since they suffered their only defeat of the season to date at Toronto.
Since that disappointing evening at BMO Field, Sean Johnson has kept four clean sheets in six games, meaning NYCFC have a league-high five shutouts in ten games (50% of all games played so far).
It’s an impressive record which speaks volumes for the organization and responsibility taken by every player who’s taken to the field in this span.
Tajouri-Shradi scored his 15th goal for the Club in last weekend’s road win at Montreal, meaning he’s tied for NYCFC’s second top-scorer of all-time (level with Frank Lampard).
The Libyan has a taste for the spectacular, as he demonstrated with the stunning second goal last weekend and looks in top form after recovering from the injury which curtailed his start to the season.
Galaxy have endured a stuttering start to May after a red-hot April but they still lie in second place in the Western Conference.
Road defeats to Columbus and Red Bulls in the past five days mean they trail cross-city rivals LAFC by two points in the early running but they will be hoping to get back to winning ways in front of their home crowd on Saturday afternoon to potentially claim top spot for the first time in 2019.
It won't be easy...
City earned a big road win on their last visit to Carson in 2017 thanks to an inspired display from Sean Johnson and goals from David Villa and Jonathan Lewis.
Neither City goalscorer on that day remains at the Club but City have firepower capable of launching another memorable away victory, with Taty Castellanos, Héber and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in fine form heading into this one.
With Alexandru Mitriță on his way back and Maxi Moralez back among the goals in Montreal, City will hope to return back from LA with the full quantity of points.