Opinion (March 16, 2017) – The LA Galaxy have had a rough two games to start the 2017 MLS season. They’ve lost two close ones at home by one goal. They’ve got three (possibly four) starters out with injuries. And their Captain, Jelle Van Damme, is still suspended for Saturday’s game at RSL.
LA Galaxy Optics: They Are Better Than They Have Shown So Far
With everything that has gone on, the question is: Are the Galaxy as bad as they’ve shown so far? Two losses at home. A bunch of young players are making mistakes. That looks pretty bad. This team is no MLS Cup contender, but they’re not as bad as they’ve played so far.
Injuries are probably the biggest cause of the Galaxy’s problems right now, especially at the back. They’re missing their two starting full backs in Ashley Cole and Robbie Rogers. Cole is making his return to training and could be available soon. Rogers will be out for awhile with nerve issues in his foot. This has forced a position change for Rafa Garcia to right back. It has also forced the inexperienced Dave Romney and Nathan Smith into the lineup.
This collectively has caused miscommunication and errors at the back. Defensive breakdowns can be seen in all three goals the Galaxy have given up this season. This is directly connected to inexperience and lack of chemistry. With veteran players getting healthy, the Galaxy will have better players who know each other well back in the lineup. And things should improve.
Cole is one of the better left backs in the league even at 36-years-old when healthy. An argument can be made that A.J. DeLaGarza is a better right back than Robbie Rogers. We’ll have to see when and if Rogers comes back. He’s certainly more familiar with the position than Garcia.
A Hot Mess Of An Offense
The Galaxy have one goal in 180 minutes so far. It was a Giovani dos Santos penalty kick against FC Dallas, that was a bit of an iffy call. They’ve done a good job creating chances, but mostly with opponents sitting back with a lead. Jack McBean has played as expected. Gyasi Zardes is just now coming back from injury. Ariel Lassiter wasn’t able to finish against Dallas. Romain Alessandrini is still getting used to his teammates.
Still, the attack was always going to center around Dos Santos. He created a few chances against Dallas. The PK finish was excellent. Then he came off at half time against the Portland Timbers. For the Galaxy attack to be competitive, they need Dos Santos and Zardes.
Unlike the defense, all the pieces seem to be there. They have depth and don’t need to consistently rely on inexperienced players to be successful. Still, with Zardes and Dos Santos potentially unavailable for Saturday, someone needs to step up big.
The Galaxy are still a work in progress and it is going to take time. Plenty of teams in MLS take two months to figure things out and still make the playoffs. Suspensions, fair or not, haven’t helped them. It’s still unclear how good this team is, beyond the relatively certainty that they aren’t an MLS Cup favorite.
But they’re going to need time to figure that out. They need to get healthy. They need to gel. The young players need minutes. It’s probably not as bad as it seems after two games.