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Jun 14, 2024 9:20 pm

Joseph Paintsil expected back as Galaxy face Sporting Kansas City

Joseph Paintsil

Joseph Paintsil is expected to return to the lineup when the Los Angeles Galaxy oppose Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at Carson, Calif.

Paintsil sustained a hamstring strain against Minnesota United on May 15 and has missed the past four games. The 26-year-old has four goals and five assists in 13 matches in his first season since the Galaxy paid a $9 million transfer fee to acquire him from Genk in Belgium.

“Joe’s been fully involved this whole week and he was in partial training session stuff last week so he’s ready to join the team and be ready to go,” Los Angeles coach Greg Vanney said.

A healthy Paintsil bolsters a Galaxy offense that has received stellar contributions from Dejan Joveljic (nine goals) and Riqui Puig (six goals, eight assists).

But the Galaxy (7-3-7, 28 points) struggled offensively in their 2-1 road loss against the Chicago Fire on June 1. Puig scored in the seventh minute for the early lead before Chicago rallied.

Los Angeles had a six-game unbeaten stretch (2-0-4) before the setback.

Sporting Kansas City (3-9-5, 14 points) ended a seven-match MLS losing streak and a 10-game winless span with a 2-1 home victory over the Seattle Sounders last Saturday.

Alenis Vargas scored the decisive goal in the 85th minute. Johnny Russell had a first-half tally.

Sporting KC is tied for the 12th-most points in the Western Conference and will need a strong second half to make the playoffs. Of course, that was also the script last season when SKC went winless (0-7-3) in their first 10 matches of the season before turning things around.

“We never wanted to be in that situation again but we are,” Russell said. “We know we can do it. That’s what we have to look at. We’re the same team. It’s the same teams around us. We did it last year. So we have to have the belief we can go and do it again. We can’t continue to make it a habit where this is the norm for us.”

Erik Thommy leads SKC with four goals.

MLS placed SKC midfielder Felipe Hernandez on administrative leave Friday for violating the league’s gambling policies. Hernandez was suspended in 2021 for reportedly betting on two MLS matches.

The Galaxy recovered from a two-goal deficit to post a 3-2 road win over Sporting KC on March 23. Joveljic scored the tying goal in the 75th minute and Marky Delgado added the winner five minutes later.

–Field Level Media

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