No, but we should be concerned. LA Galaxy suffered their first loss of the season on the road versus FC Dallas 2-0 on Saturday afternoon. The loss is not the concerning part, it is other patterns that are starting to emerge or re-emerge.
“We need to work…We need to be better, more focused…”Schelotto on defensive mistakes
The season is two weeks old and already LA Galaxy have a list of injuries to deal with. Zlatan Ibrahimovic who played the entire 90 minutes in week one versus Chicago Fire had to miss out against Dallas through injury. Add to that Sebastian Lletget, fresh off coming back from an injury, broke his nose on Saturday versus Dallas and it remains to be seen if he will miss more time.
Jonathan dos Santos went down in the first half versus Chicago, but was able to bounce back and not miss added time. However, he can be seen out there not playing at 100% high pressuring and closing down passing lanes as he is known for. Other center midfielders Juninho and Perry Kitchen have still been unavailable for selection as injuries have kept them out.
What does all this mean? It means the team and more importantly new manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto will have to figure out a way to rotate his squad to maximize rest times. For example, the international break is coming after this weekend’s match versus Minnesota United. Do you play Ibrahimovic or let him rest until March 31? Essentially giving him four weeks of rest. The same question goes for any players carrying a knock.
Schelotto was asked on whether Ibrahimovic’s absence was felt against Dallas, “Yes of course, the absence of Ibrahimovic and Alessandrini is clear.” This is the balancing act that the manager will have to manage, and it’s unfortunate that this is happening so early in the season.
One Half or the Other
Not both. This has been a pattern for the last two years now. LA Galaxy seem to be able to put together a solid performance (on a good day) either in the first 45 or the second 45 minutes, but never both. Schelotto also addressed this after the game often saying that the first half is where the team had missed opportunities and were a little unlucky.
The same scenario played out in both games so far as the team played lackluster versus Chicago for the first 60 minutes of the match and really dominant the last 30. The result was a narrow 2-1 victory courtesy of the brilliance of 16 year old Efrain Alvarez. However, Chicago were unlucky not to put the game away before LA Galaxy found their legs.
In the second match against Dallas, Galaxy found a rhythm early and played well in the first 45 minutes, but were absolutely wasteful in front of the net. This came back to haunt them in the second half as their level dropped and the referee awarded Dallas the softest of penalty calls you will ever see in a professional match. The team never recovered, and because of that, it is another unacceptable performance.
In a classroom or any profession, doing half of what you’re supposed to do is a FAIL.
People will tend to focus solely on the mistakes that led to goals. That is what we call uneducated soccer fans. Although they are important as far as conceding goals, the cracks in defenses that end up bursting open by the end of the season show themselves early and often. Daniel Steres was guilty of plenty of defensive mistakes including bad positioning in the Chicago game but was better in the Dallas game despite the loss. New center-back Diego Polenta has been hot and cold in both starts, making silly mistakes that have led directly to goals in both games. Polenta can be forgiven slightly as he is new to the team and the league, but his leash is only so long.
“We made some mistakes that made it very easy for the other team”-Schelotto on what went wrong vs Dallas.
Jorgen Skjelvik was obviously a liability at center-back last year and has shown that he is better as an outside left back so far this year. The problem? Skjelvik shows nothing in the way of physicality or aggressiveness despite his 6-foot tall frame, and great speed. That is offensively and defensively, there is no bite to his game.
On the other side Rolf Feltscher has plenty of both aggressiveness and physicality but is caught so far out of position so often that it counts for not, as he is not close enough to the play to make an impact. Chicago clearly wanted to exploit the match up down his side in the first game as they routinely created easy opportunities with little resistance.
This begs the question, why isn’t Dave Romney getting an opportunity? At the very least, over Steres. Romney’s versatility is valuable to a thin backline, but can only gain a rhythm if he plays. Perhaps Schelotto will make a change in the back in the very near future? I believe that he should given that we have played two games, have no shutouts, have been fortunate to not lose both, and have been out shot in both contests so far.
Four out of the next five games for the Galaxy are at home. They need to pick up a minimum of three wins in the next five games, or they will be staring at a situation a lot like last year where they are playing for their playoff lives the whole last two months of the season.
It is not the position you want to be in with a strong Western Conference, inconsistent play from the team, cracks in the defense, and a laundry list of injuries.
Next game: Saturday, March 16. LA Galaxy vs Minnesota United, 7:30 p.m. Dignity Health Sports Park.