Shorthanded LA Galaxy Show Signs of Life Following a Hard Fought Draw in Vancouver

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - March 11: Sigi Schmid, head coach of LA Galaxy on the sideline during the New York City FC Vs LA Galaxy regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on March 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

VANCOUVER, BC (March 24, 2018) – The LA Galaxy can fly home from their 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps with their heads held high. The game was a surprisingly open affair given the Galaxy traveled north without a complete 18-man roster. The shorthanded bench included two goalkeepers.

Shorthanded LA Galaxy Earn a Crucial Point Away at the Vancouver Whitecaps

The LA Galaxy, who started only five starters from their opening day Starting XI, earned a tough away point in Vancouver thanks in large part to their much-improved defense who pitched a shutout on the road.

Despite the clean sheet, there were some nervy moments for the Galaxy. In the 37th minute, Whitecaps midfielder Efrain Juarez found an unmarked Christian Techera with a long, cross-field ball. Techera settled the ball with pace as Galaxy debutant, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, ran backward on the Vancouver turf. With so much space, Tecehra cut inside and fired a curling bell-ringer at Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham, but the shot narrowly missed catching the upper 90 as it sailed over the crossbar.

Moments later, Hilliard-Arce would make another mistake. This time, he broke the defensive line by nearly ten yards allowing Whitecaps midfielder Felipe to pick out Yordy Reina running one-on-one with a helpless Bingham. In spite of his isolation, Bingham followed the path to glory as he coolly went to ground and kicked the ball wide of the Galaxy goal.

The LA Galaxy would counter in the second half with two clear chances of their own.

In the 53rd minute, Ema Boateng cut back from the end-line and floated a perfectly weighted cross to the back-post where the head of Servando Carrasco waited patiently. The unselfish Carrasco picked out an unmarked Ari Lassiter, but the headed pass was off the mark and rolled out for a goal kick.

Minutes later, Boateng ran on to a long, cleared ball. Unfortunately, the pacey winger’s left foot let him down as his tête-à-tête with Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic whispered quietly without contention wide of the post.

As the game ticked forward, the Galaxy became visually content with the draw. So, they parked their big blue bus in front of goal for the last twenty minutes. The waning moments saw the Whitecaps win a few corners, but their feverish attempts came up empty as the game ended as a scoreless draw.

Three Thoughts:

The Back Three

LA Galaxy head coach, Sigi Schmid, broke with his traditional 4-2-3-1 formation for a 3-4-1-2. The switch placed winger Ema Boateng with reserve forward Ari Lassiter as the striker-duo. Although, they often found themselves in familiar wide roles as the Galaxy attacked consistently down the wings.

This strategy gave little going forward. The LA Galaxy were able to produce only one shot on target on the night.

However, the tactical switch did allow the Galaxy to stifle a very pacey Vancouver attack and keep players behind the ball as the Galaxy pushed forward with limited numbers. Defenders Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, and Hilliard-Arce combined for 31 clearances and 9 interceptions on the night. Meanwhile, the Vancouver attack, led by veteran Kei Kamara and explosive teenager Alphonso Davies were unable to threaten the Galaxy’s clean sheet. Do not be surprised if the Galaxy go to a back three again in 2018.

A Clean Debut

2018 second-overall MLS SuperDraft pick, and former Stanford standout, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, played the full 90-minutes in his MLS. Despite a few nervy moments in the first half, the rookie played very well. The rookie looked to gain visible confidence as the game, and his game, progressed.

The three-time NCAA Division 1 champion tallied one clean tackle, four interceptions, and 10 clearances on the night. The youngster looked poised despite playing in a back three, something he has little experience with.

“Personally, I realized I was going to be playing a new position, I haven’t really played three at the back, but we were given an objective for the three centerbacks… I feel really good right now.” [1]

The LA Galaxy Need Zlatan

Many will claim the lackluster attack is due to missing so many attacking pieces. The troubling truth is the Galaxy attack is still weak. It would be tough to imagine a player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing as many clear-cut chances as Ema Boateng has this season. Yes, they are different players, but the Galaxy are in desperate need of goals.

Despite a 1-1-1 record, the Galaxy have scored just three goals in three games. Conversely, their cross-town rivals have scored six goals in two contests. Understandably, the Galaxy will improve when forward Ola Kamara (who tallied a hat-trick for Norway over the weekend) returns. The same can be said about the return of 2017 team MVP Romain Alessandrini.

Los Angeles sports fans have clearly capricious tendencies. Given this fickle nature, the Galaxy need Zlatan to come in and do what Zlatan does. Across 683 club competitions, Zlatan has scored 403 goals and donated 159 assists. In 105 international contests, he has scored 61 goals and added another 17 assists. If Zlatan gives the Galaxy even half of that production, he is worth each and every one of the 300,000,000 pennies of TAM the Galaxy are paying him.

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