LA Galaxy had a lot of questions that needed answering going in to Saturday night’s game versus Minnesota United. The team would be missing two of its best attackers in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini for the second straight match. They were facing a Minnesota team that had won its first two games and scored three goals in each.
Key questions were answered in LA Galaxy’s 3-2 victory over Minnesota.
Where would the goals come from?
Uriel Antuna seemed like a natural selection to put up top given his skill set. The quick and creative player was untested for Galaxy up top this season as was mostly used out wide. However, with the injury to Zlatan and the lackluster attack in Dallas, first year manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto looked to Antuna for answers. Although he did not score, he created multiple chances and hounded United’s back line into making errors. Antuna showed up in a big way, and if Zlatan has to miss more games this season, Antuna showed that the team can play well with him there.
Another player worthy of discussion is Chris Pontius. He is a blue collar workhorse on the field with a great soccer mind and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Pontius not only seemed to own the flank position, but also owned several key positions in the box as he had a couple headers and a chested goal that was fully deserved. Pontius’ combination of smarts and size make him a great weapon if LA Galaxy are going to continue this tactic of overlapping the wing backs and getting crosses in the box.
Sebastian Lletget played underneath Antuna and provided not only a spark but great creativity. He split lines with passes, took players on with the dribble, and even netted the game-winning goal himself. Just like the past two seasons, this LA Galaxy team is much different and better with a healthy Lletget. One of the most if not the most creative and skilled player on the U.S. Men’s National Team, Lletget will be leaned on heavily going forward.
Will the Midfield Start to Settle?
With the addition of Joe Corona, the Galaxy midfield has had little time to gel. Jonathan dos Santos up until this game did not look fully fit and in combination with his brother being released by the team, it has been a difficult opening three weeks to the season for dos Santos. Adding Corona to the lineup before the Dallas game proved to be problematic, however that was not the case against United. Lletget, Corona, and dos Santos routinely knocked the ball around the United midfield, thoroughly outplaying them for large stretches of the match.
The combination of Corona, Lletget, and dos Santos provides players that are not only skilled but extremely smart in attack and defense. They can provide a solid foundation and spine to the team going into future fixtures. Lletget and dos Santos each scratched on the scoresheet tonight but affected the game in so many other ways. It is clear that the more games this trio can play with each other, the stronger they will be.
Could the defense get a shut out?
No. That much was answered at the beginning of the article. The Galaxy continue to make mistakes that lead to easy goals for the opposition. Tonight it was a pair of them as David Bingham misplayed an innocent looking driven shot right at him. Jorgen Skjelvik also lost possession of the ball just outside the defensive 18-yard box and then the cross and shot deflected off the post only to see Daniel Steres and Rolf Feltscher standing and not reacting to the miss and Minnesota tapped in the rebound.
The team cannot rely on outscoring the opposition every match. They learned that the hard way last season. Schelotto clearly prefers Steres over Dave Romney and that’s fine as long as Steres is playing well. He has been inconsistent within the games so far which leads one to question, what exactly does Romney have to do to get some playing time? Perhaps Schelotto likes to have a longer leash on his defenders since that is not the strong points of his teams in the past.
Either way, the team could use some shutouts to at least make the other teams feel as if they will not score against them.
The LA Galaxy will look to continue answering questions after the international break at home March 31 vs Portland Timbers at 6:00 p.m.