Major League Soccer announced the next phase of its regular-season reboot Friday, one that has the Galaxy playing September home games with the Colorado Rapids (Sept. 19) and Seattle Sounders (Sept. 27) around a short road trip to Real Salt Lake (Sept. 23). LAFC will play at Seattle (Sept. 18) followed by home games with Vancouver (Sept. 23) and San Jose (Sept. 27).
Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the league’s three Canadian teams will relocate temporarily to the United States. Montreal will move to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., Toronto to Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn., and Vancouver will share Portland’s Providence Park with the Timbers.
Each team will play one game in their new home and two games on the road. The final nine matches of each team’s schedule will be announced later this month.
Both Southern California teams must first get through challenging tests Sunday, when the Galaxy put their four-game winning streak on the line in San Jose and struggling LAFC — losers of four of their last five — limp home to face Portland.
With a victory over the Earthquakes, the Galaxy (4-3-2) could match their longest single-season winning streak this century. And they expect to have some reinforcements back to help make that happen. Captain Jonathan dos Santos, who has come off the bench in the last four games, could start Sunday for just the second time this year. Striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández could be available for limited action for the first time since tearing a calf muscle in mid-July.
“If it’s one minute, 15, 50, 90 or whatever, I’m going to try to do my best to maintain that rhythm, that level the team show[ed] in the last [four] games,” Hernández said.
San Jose (2-4-3) is last in the 12-team Western Conference and hasn’t won since July, allowing 20 goals in its last five games.
LAFC (3-4-3) has one win since July and has been shut out in three of its last five matches. That has dropped LAFC below .500 for the first time in franchise history and left the team with a negative goal differential for the first time since the opening month of its expansion season.
“It’s easy to see that we are in a period where it’s well below our standards,” coach Bob Bradley said. “We have to play ourselves out of it. To a man right now we have to embrace that, as good of a team as we’ve been, and as much as we’ve had some really good games not that long ago, with everything going on right now we’ve lost our way.”
The Timbers (4-3-2) have won just once in four tries since winning the MLS Is Back tournament in Florida last month.
Following the September games that already have been announced, LAFC will play nine more times in six weeks before ending the season on Nov. 8. The Galaxy, which must make up a game with Seattle that was postponed, will play 10 more matches, among them a fourth regular-season matchup with LAFC.
“We’ve had guys step up and honestly it’s good that we have a lot of games,” Galaxy midfielder Perry Kitchen said. “Our training here has been very difficult so it really doesn’t change when we’re playing every three or four days.”