LA GALAXY (9-5-1) VS. REVOLUTION (3-8-4)
10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, DAZN, SSN, NBCSB
In the end, Bruce Arena could not resist being on the field to coach his new team against his old one on Sunday night.
Arena, who is nearly three weeks into his new job as head coach and sporting director of the New England Revolution, had been taking things slowly in is new gig, allowing interim coach Mike Lapper to guide the team.
With a match at Los Angeles against the Galaxy on Sunday night, Arena has decided that now is the time to make his debut on the Revolution sideline.
The symbolism is rich. Arena wants to transform the Revs in much the same way he did with the Galaxy when he guided them to three MLS titles in four years during his tenure in Los Angeles (2008-16).
“It’s not going to happen in the next two weeks, but I’m confident over the next couple of years that we can make very good progress and make this team much more competitive,” Arena said. “Everything will be here to be successful.”
Under Lapper, the Revolution did get better. When Brad Friedel was fired, New England was coming off back-to-back defeats, losing by a combined score of 11-1. Since then, the Revolution (3-8-4, 13 points) have a victory over San Jose and ties against Montreal and D.C. United.
In their last game, the Revs neutralized D.C. United star Wayne Rooney until a 90th-minute penalty kick. Now, they must contain Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned from a two-game suspension Wednesday with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City.
Ibrahimovic, who earned his suspension for aggressive behavior in a May 11 defeat to New York City FC, entered the weekend second in MLS with 10 goals. The Galaxy have won their last two games, both on the road, after looking lethargic during a four-game losing streak.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Galaxy (9-5-1, 28 points) are in second place in the Western Conference, even with the recent losing run. How much will Arena’s presence Sunday alter the Galaxy’s approach?
“When I am thinking about the game, I am thinking the same,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “Maybe everything with the game will change for the fans and the journalists, more than me, because Bruce is there. Everyone knows who Bruce is and how important he was for the league and the Galaxy.”
For the Galaxy, it is unclear if defenders Diego Polenta (ankle) and Rolf Fletscher (leg) will be available. Revolution midfielder Isaac Angking (knee) and defender Michael Mancienne (foot) are questionable.
–Field Level Media