The last two seasons have been the most painful in LA Galaxy history. Fans are hoping the trend does not continue this year with the addition of new head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. However, in the final preseason match versus the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, this LA Galaxy looked a lot like the version of the past two seasons.
LA Galaxy would lose this game 3-1 and lost starting goalkeeper David Bingham through injury.
Granted, without the services of midfield powerhouses Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos, this was always going to be a difficult game. Add the fact that they were going up against talented midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Kellyn Acosta and it is no wonder that our midfield was outclassed and outplayed for the majority of the match.
The normal alternate center midfielders would be Perry Kitchen and/or Juninho but they were both also out. Seems like the perfect storm of center midfielder troubles have landed before the season even kicks off.
And Giovani dos Santos? Don’t even get us started.
The idea of starting Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara up top in a 4-4-2 sounds like a good idea in theory, however, it takes away from both of their strengths and makes them less effective. Kamara from his time at Columbus Crew and in the games last season without Zlatan is most effective splitting the backline with deep runs and slashing finishes. However, in order to do this he needs to be the furthest striker forward. Do you really expect Zlatan to play underneath?
Zlatan is at his best as a target forward with slashing players flanking him and a creative player playing underneath him for the knock downs. This would be Gio but who knows what’s wrong with him?! With both players seemingly in each others way, this partnership cannot work as currently constructed.
Romain Alessandrini, God bless his heart is a wild card. Yes, he works extremely hard but too often is a man on an island. His antics towards the referees and his body language on the field do not help a team looking to bounce back in a big way this year. His service into the box is also lacking consistency as he seems caught too often between decisions.
How Can We Fix This?
For starters, we need to get Jonathan and Lletget healthy. Those two players alone would change the whole complexity of this squad as they did down the stretch last year when falling short of a playoff push.
After that, it gets a bit more complicated. Kamara should play on the left wing in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-2-2-1 or however they want to frame it. He does not like playing out there, but he can be much more effective with space on the flank than he can be under Zlatan’s shadow. Also, Zlatan needs to make near post runs on crosses from the right side. His standing back post allows the defense to stand. If he slashed near post (like when he scored the game winning goal last season vs LAFC) he would attract so much attention, freeze the goalie and leave the back post open for Kamara. This would also simplify Alessandrini’s services as having two areas to aim at, he could put more pace on his crosses, which is his preference anyways.
When Zlatan sits because of turf or rest, Kamara needs to be the central striker and Emmanuel Boateng should be starting on the left wing. Boateng provides LA Galaxy with a different dynamic that pairs perfectly with Kamara up top. In those games Alessandrini will find himself more isolated in transition as the defense over compensates for Boateng.
Defensively, Dave Romney needs to be in. He has proven himself as a solid player in the back line and is an improvement over Daniel Steres. Chris Pontius will provide a great depth piece in the long season as injuries become a problem. Filling in on either wing and to a lesser extent as a link up forward if needed.
Once again, no idea where Gio fits in all of this.
LA Galaxy open up their season at home versus Chicago Fire next Saturday, March 2nd, 5:00pm.
Let’s hope they sort out the kinks this week.