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Three players who need big games for LAFC against the LA Galaxy

It’s all or nothing, and everyone needs to perform.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s gameday, and everything is on the line for Los Angeles Football Club against the LA Galaxy. Win, and you get to keep playing in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Lose, and the season is over.

Everyone needs to step up and play their best in this game, but here are three (ok, four) players who need to be big on Thursday for LAFC:

Eduard Atuesta

The midfielder has had a fantastic season and is potentially going to be an MLS Best XI selection. But he struggled against the Galaxy this season. His worst games came against them, in fact.

LAFC have a system that isn’t based on one player — although Carlos Vela has been phenomenal this season, the team is built to spread the load. But when Atuesta struggled, some of the seams surrounding the system were exposed, and the Colombian’s importance was showcased. Most notably, Atuesta is the midfield metronome in terms of LAFC’s passing. If he can’t get in rhythm, the whole unit suffers. And so, he’ll need the crisp passing that has made him a budding star, to go along with robust defense in the middle and the level head to play smart. If he does, LAFC will have something that the Galaxy can’t match.

Tyler Miller/Pablo Sisniega

We’ve spoken about the goalkeeper situation a couple times in recent weeks, but the goalkeeper situation is huge for this one. Tyler Miller has gotten the assignment against the Galaxy, but Zlatan’s worldies have been the stuff of nightmares for Miller. The starter has struggled in the second half of the season and El Traficos seem to be extra difficult to contend with.

But would Pablo Sisniega get the nod? He’s had great moments in Miller’s absence, but he’s also shown youthful mistakes at times.

No matter who the goalkeeper turns out to be, he has zero room for mistakes. He could have a good game and still get torched. LAFC haven’t really relied on their goalkeeper this season — this is the game to be exceptional and more than any other position, get over the mental hump against the Galaxy.

Walker Zimmerman

MLS: LA Galaxy at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The defender was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year, but Zimmerman’s stellar first half wasn’t replicated over the second half of the season, as he was “merely” good. With Eddie Segura helping to elevate LAFC’s defense this season and being the constant on the backline, this is the moment for Zimmerman to step up and be the defensive anchor to lead LAFC to victory. If he can stay organized, stymie Zlatan and keep the Galaxy’s chances to an absolute minimum (none of those tasks easy, to be sure), LAFC’s overall quality will shine through and they can get that elusive victory.

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