I try. We all try to stay positive about LA Galaxy being in 3rd place in the standings (Western Conference). Combine that with stars including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jonathan dos Santos and what is there not to be positive about? However, as someone who has watched every game this season, it is obvious that something is not quite right with this team.
The Galaxy have gone 5 wins and 8 losses in their last 13 games. What is more alarming, is that in those games, the Galaxy have given up 21 goals! Also, the Galaxy have lost the possession battle in their last five matches. But we aren’t here to talk about stats!
Lack of Identity
When talking about the Galaxy and a lack of identity, it is multi dimensioned. First, there is no leadership for this team, or at least, no clear consistent leader. When Zlatan is in the mood, he can lift and propel the team forward. However, the problem with that is that he is very moody and lack of consistent service combined with his energy exertion at 37 years young, means that you never really know how it’s going to go. Then dos Santos does lead very well by example, however, because he is often doing so much running plugging up holes left by Joe Corona (in declining form) Sebastian Lletget (injured) or Fabio Alvarez (still adjusting) that there is little time for him to organize the team in transition situations.
Outside of those two players, it seems that everyone else is focused on getting their own game right, rather than trying to make the players around them better. That is not necessarily a knock on them, it’s just they don’t have the experience as a leader that Zlatan and dos Santos have or don’t play enough consistently enough.
There is also a lack of a consistent playing style in the attack. Are we playing through Zlatan? Are we getting the ball wide and looking to swing in crosses? Are we trying to spread out the other team in slow build up? Long-ball? Play through the middle? Overload the strong side? WHAT?! Nobody knows, and that in and of itself is one of the most frustrating parts of this team.
Defensive? Well, it has been inconsistent as well. In the past four matches, two have been shutouts but in the other two games, the Galaxy have let in a combined six goals. Once again, the tactics come in to question: Are we forcing teams wide? Pressing in threes? High press? Line of confrontation at the midway line? Parking the bus? Forcing to the middle? Making them beat us over the top? WHAT!? Once again, more questions.
The questions land squarely on the shoulders of first year manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto. His job isn’t in jeopardy but with the Galaxy only seven points above the playoff line, they need to figure it out and FAST.
The Galaxy just got played off the field at home against rivals San Jose Earthquakes on Friday to the tune of 3-1 and it wasn’t even THAT close. David Bingham needed a career high 14 saves just to keep the game close. Now the Galaxy have to play the hottest and best team in the league (not to mention city rivals) LAFC.
This game could get ugly, if the Galaxy play in any way, shape, form, or fashion the same way they did against the Earthquakes. El Trafico will either be rock bottom, or a launching pad into this next gauntlet of matches.
The next set of matches for the Galaxy don’t get any easier as they take on Tijuana (Leagues Cup), Portland Timbers (lost 4-0 in US Open Cup), Atlanta United (defending MLS Cup Champions), DC United (2nd in the East), FC Dallas (lost 2-0 3/9), and Seattle Sounders (2nd in West).
Even the most optimistic Galaxy fan would puff out the cheeks to this schedule of games.
So what type of team do we have, and how does the team see itself? As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says,
You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.
So I’ll ask again, how do we see ourself?
Next game: LA Galaxy vs LAFC. Friday July 19, Dignity Health Sports Park, 7:00pm PST.