MLS – LA Galaxy v Columbus Crew Preview (3/9/16)

LAX-CC

LA Galaxy preview

The Californian giants don’t lose very often but they head into this match winless in six matches. LA have only suffered four defeats in 26 games which ties Colorado as the best record in MLS. However, this recent winless run has seen them drop to fourth in the Western Conference. Their long term participation in the playoffs isn’t really under threat, but after last season's disappointing fifth, the Galaxy know they need to finish as high as possible in order to get a good seeding. It’s difficult to say exactly what's gone wrong, but something isn’t right. Failure to beat or even score against out of form Vancouver last week (0-0) rather sums up the Galaxy right now. In addition, they also have some other issues at the moment. Key centre back Jelle Van Damme is injured, and so is influential midfield star Steven Gerrard. In attack, Gyasi Zardes might be out for the rest of the season due to a broken metatarsal. Striker Robbie Keane is unlikely to feature due to a recent international match, which was incidentally his last ever appearance for Ireland. Finally, they recently lost midfielder Nigel de Jong, who transferred back Galatasaray, claiming he missed playing in Europe.

Columbus Crew Preview

The Crew have generally endured a miserable season but might have given themselves a fighting chance of making the playoffs thanks to a couple of recent wins. If they win their games in hand on DC United then they’d be level on points with the sixth placed team. It’s easier said than done but at least Columbus now have a purpose in what has been a horrible campaign. In general, their performances have gradually improved in the last few weeks, but they will be hindered in this match due to a lot of absences. The Crew are missing three regular starters to international duty, whilst star playmaker Federico Higuain is rated doubtful. Defensive midfield lynchpin Will Trapp is ruled out due to a concussion. It’s in midfield where they are most badly affected, but thankfully they won't have Steven Gerrard or Nigel de Jong to deal with in this match. Columbus have only won a solitary away match all season, but that did come in their most recent road affair at New England a few weeks ago.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Both teams are hindered by player absences and it’s difficult to know who really has an edge in this department. Both midfields especially look really weak and I have no idea who will win the territorial battle in that area! The Galaxy have been out of form a bit and maybe could do with making some squad changes, but the predicted XI they are going to field doesn’t seem that great to me. The Crew aren’t under a lot of pressure and with LA currently a 1.80 favourite on a -0.5 asian handicap line, most people are expecting a home win. They are known for being strong at the Stubhub centre but I don’t really know who could trust them @ this price though. I fancy the Crew can surprise. They definitely have some attacking weapons like Ola Kamara who could cause LA Galaxy issues. Should key man Federico Higuain suit up then it’d be an extra bonus. I don’t particularly like backing away sides in MLS but it’s a bit of a joke the Crew are on a +0.75 handicap. If LA were in great form and at full strength I’d understand it. But they aren't and I think we are set for a low scoring contest which the visitors can at least draw.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet 1 unit: Columbus Crew +0.75 @ 1.86 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)