L.A.

What to watch for in this week’s LA Galaxy-Chicago Fire matchup

Photo courtesy of @ChicagoSports Twitter feed

The Chicago Fire get set to host the Los Angeles Galaxy at Toyota Park this weekend as two former Manchester United teammates — Zlatan Ibrahimović and Bastian Schweinsteiger — take the field in front of a sold-out crowd. After a come-from-behind 4-3 win over LAFC in the opening week, the Galaxy will look to bounce back from last week’s 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. The Fire head into this weekend’s matchup going unbeaten in their first two games.

The Fire (1-2-1) are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with four points, while the Galaxy (2-2-1) sit in third spot in the West.

Let’s take a look a few things to watch for in this matchup.

Projected Lineups

Chicago

  • GK: Richard Sanchez — Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Kevin Ellis — Drew Conner, Dax McCarty, Tony Tchani, Brandon Vincent — Diego Campos — Nemanja Nikolic, Alan Gordon

Los Angeles

  • GK: David Bingham — Rolf Feltscher, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole — Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos — Sebastian Lletget, Emma Boateng — Zlatan Ibrahimović , Ola Kamara

The Fire announced Wednesday that this weekend’s game is already sold out. Not very surprising considering the imported talent projected to be on the field. The last time these two sides met in Chicago — Aug. 24, 2016 — they finished in a 2-2 tie. Overall in the series, Chicago have 15 wins, Los Angeles have 20, with 7 draws. 

Zlatan to Start

Ibrahimovic has come off the bench in the first two matches of the season, but he said he’d be ready to start this Saturday. He played the final 28 minutes of the match vs Kansas City, but he said he’s recovering nicely from almost a year off. 

“Let’s see. I’ve been injured for a long time. People forget when I play the first game and score two goals, you shouldn’t forget that I was out for almost one year,” Ibrahimović said earlier in the week. “But I feel ready. I feel good. Next game, I’m probably there from the start. But it depends on what the coach is thinking and what he wants.”

Ibrahimović  came off the bench for two goals in the final 20 minutes of the 4-3 victory over LAFC a couple weeks back. 

Ola Kamara Signed to an Extension

The Galaxy announced Wednesday they’d be signing recent addition Ola Kamara to a three-year contract extension. Kamara came to the Galaxy in the offseason via trade with Columbus Crew SC. He has four starts for the Galaxy this year, scoring in his debut performance against Portland.

Looking at his two previous seasons, the 34 goals scored is third-best behind the likes of David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Kamara is clearly one of the more productive forwards in the league, and this kind of an extension indicates him being a continued ‘focal point’ in the team’s offense.

Simulation Data for Matchup vs the Fire

Our friends over at AccuScore simulated this matchup 10,000-plus times and the data sides a bit more heavily on Chicago’s side. The average score in the sims is 1.63 – 10.08, in favor of the Fire. Chicago win about 49 percent of simulations, with a draw taking place in about 27 percent of sims. The Galaxy win about 24 percent of simulated matches. 

Kamara actually leads the Galaxy in the sims with over a 36 percent chance of netting the ball. He averages close to three shots overall, over one shot on goal per sim, and 0.44 goals per sim. 

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Rohit Ghosh

LA Clippers beat writer
Rohit is an L.A.-based sports journalist who contributes to SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, AccuScore, and the Taxi Squad Show based out of Utah. He also runs his own sports blog, Metta Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh where he discusses AccuScore projection data, a variety of sports-related topics, and even some Jazz music.
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