The LA Galaxy are back on the road, this time heading towards Kansas City. It’s another challenge for Greg Vanney as the free-scoring LA Galaxy takes on a disciplined Sporting KC without a core part of their defensive unit.


Greg Vanney’s high-flying and high-scoring LA Galaxy face off against Peter Vermes and Sporting KC, a side involved that so far has been involved in low-scoring affairs.

Despite going about their business in different ways, both teams have identical records at 1-3-0. This will be the Galaxy’s second match in a row where they face a Western Conference rival with a matching history. 

While a quick glance at the standings suggests that these teams are in similar form, a slightly longer look will reveal that both sides have taken different paths to the same destination.

Galaxy supporters will be aware of their team’s participation in multi-goal thrillers in 2024. Their victory and three draws came as a result of the second-most goals scored in MLS (9) and seven goals conceded.

For their part, Sporting KC games have had much more conservative scorelines. Their first two matches ended in 1-1 draws, followed by a 0-0 draw against LAFC. Their most recent fixture saw the most action so far, ending in a 2-1 victory for Sporting over San Jose Earthquakes.

In other words, the LA Galaxy have been playing football that results in lots of goals scored and plenty of goals conceded, while Sporting KC has opted for a less exciting but more secure approach. Sporting have only scored four goals, half as many as the Galaxy, but have an enviable defensive record with just three conceded. Only the Seattle Sounders have been more solid. 

For all their differences in approach and style, the standings reflect parity for both sides. However, a deeper look at the history between the coaches does suggest a dynamic that favors one side.

As highlighted by Alex Ruiz, Greg Vanney has never beaten Peter Vermes in 11 encounters as coaches. Whether or not Vanney can finally break the streak depends on his ability to maintain the new-and-improved version of Vanney-ball we’ve seen despite the first significant personnel drop of the season.

The LA Galaxy will be traveling to Kansas without Martin Caceres, who took a potentially point-saving red card in the final minutes of the draw versus St. Louis City SC. 

The Maya Yoshida and Martin Caceres duo has been impressive so far this season and a massive cog in Greg Vanney’s system. Their experience and ability to read the game have been instrumental as defense has become the foundation through which the Galaxy attack.

Without Caceres as an option, Vanney’s next natural option would be ex-Salvadoran international Eriq Zavaleta. Due to a lack of impressive performances and Gaston Brugman’s reintegration into the squad, some supporters are calling for a different solution. 

The lack of confidence in Zavaleta has some suggesting dropping a defensive midfielder, such as Brugman, into the vacant center-back role to provide temporary cover. With Zavaleta last seeing action in preseason, it may be wise to consider an option that may be more primed for action.

For argument’s sake, it is also worth noting that both defensive midfielders, Gaston Burgman and Edwin Cerillo, made mistakes that contributed to goals in the last game. 

Perhaps Vanney may choose to call on his backup center back to perform as an understudy as intended. Regardless, the Galaxy’s defensive performance will be the biggest question for Vanney to figure out.

LA Galaxy versus Sporting KC kicks off Saturday, March 23rd, at 5:30 PM PST. Tune in with MLS+ or join fellow G’s at your local fan-led watch parties.


PHOTO: LA Galaxy

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