With this Sunday’s match sure to be a sell out at the arena (Editor's note: nope), the Red Bulls look to continue their undefeated streak as they take on five time MLS Cup winners LA Galaxy. But looking into the rosters of the clubs, more specifically the predicted Starting XI on Sunday, what will be the matchup to watch?
Looking at the left midfield for the Bulls, will Mike Grella once again receive a start for the club, or will Sal Zizzo step in? This decision will alter the game greatly, as Zizzo provides RBNY with constant attacks in the final third as well aiding on corners and set pieces. However, to put it simply, Grella has scored more goals. And it is very hard to bench the hot hand (or foot). If Grella does start, it sets up an interesting matchup between himself and Galaxy right back Dan Gargan.
Dan Gargan, age 32, has played in MLS since 2005 (except in 2009 when he played a year in the NASL) and has been a starter for the LA Galaxy since signing in 2014. Gargan has made 35 starts since singing, filling the stat sheet with 5 assists and 10 (yes, 10) yellow cards. Let's take a closer look at his numbers:
Gargan poses a problem for the Bulls on the right side of the pitch, making Mike Grella and Felipe Martin's job more difficult. Gargan is set to break 3000 minutes played for the Galaxy and brings an ever increasing wealth of veteran experience to the position. He must also be watched by whomever starts for RBNY at LB, as he likes to sweep around the midfield and make for overlapping runs when on the attack.
Is Gargan a long-ball specialist?
Watching preseason live streams earlier in the year, I remember saying to myself, "We gotta watch out for this Mike Grella guy." A couple goals later, and he has turned into the player I hoped he would be: a goal scorer. Mike Grella: the pride of Long Island.**
Throughout his career, Grella has played for 11 clubs in 8 years. How do his stats match up against Gargan?
Mike Grella has played in four matches for the Bulls so far, and has started in three. In those games, he has a 50% shots on goal percentage, shooting 3 of 6 on target and scoring two. Therefore, he has a 33% goals to total shots ratio and a 66% goals to shots on target percentage.
But forget about the math. Let's watch his chip shot against the Columbus Crew again.
I think its safe to say, Mike Grella and Sal Zizzo are two very different players. As seen in a lineup prediction not too long ago, Grella targets goal where as Zizzo targets the box. Grella ignores fancy skills and sticks to old-fashioned, Steven Gerrard-esque dribble, pass, and shoot tactics. Grella is not fast nor does he do too much on the ball, yet he has his own unique style and so far it's working for him.
Grella's style of play is more "old school" whereas Gargan is sort of a hybrid defender, with the ability to deliver excellent balls into the box creating chances on offense. Mike Grella, despite being 28, is still learning the ins and outs of the league whereas Gargan is a veteran. A four year age gap separates the two as well as a difference of 232 minutes played this season: Gargan has played 467, Grella 235.
My prediction for how these two will line up? Well, I hope Mike Grella starts, or else this post will mean virtually nothing. That said, I see Mike Grella having trouble in the opening twenty minutes of the match when being forced to focus on defensive responsibilities, but eventually coming into his own and helping RBNY secure a point. I predict the final match score to be a 2-2 draw, with Grella having an assist. In terms of Gargan, look out for him at right back and watch as he moves the ball into RBNY's side of the pitch. He'll be the guy swinging crosses into New York's box all match.
Who do you think you are LA? Downplaying in one tweet and hyping in the next?
What are your thoughts on Dan Gargan vs. Mike Grella?
**NOTE: Speaking of Long Island, I was at the home opener at Red Bull Arena where RBNY took on DC United. After the match, as I grabbed a table I noticed a magazine entitled Soccer Long Island Magazine. Anyway, I started to read it and really enjoyed the articles inside. No, this is not a paid advertisement, I just wanted to shed some light on a site/magazine in which is benefiting the soccer community in the NY/NJ area. Although not regularly distributed at Red Bull Arena, you can subscribe to their magazine as well as read their posts online if you are interested in the New York Red Bulls, New York Cosmos, as well as New York City FC.