Editorial (May 7, 2017) – Bradley Diallo has started the last two games at right back for the LA Galaxy. Both have been frustrating home draws for the club. But Diallo has been a quietly effective in that role. It’s possible he’s locked down the starting spot going forward.
Bradley Diallo At Right Back: Providing Another Option For LA Galaxy
The right back position has been troubling for the Galaxy. Robbie Rogers is likely out for the season due to complications with an off-season foot surgery. Immediate backup A.J. DeLaGarza was traded the week of the SuperDraft. Rafael Garcia was given a shot at right back in preseason. Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo then gave a shot to Academy product Nathan Smith, who he coached at LA Galaxy II. The ‘Small Pit Bull’ had a few good matches, but struggled in a few losses.
The Stats Look Decent:
With the Galaxy needing to stop the bleeding against the Philadelphia Union, Diallo got a look at right back. Let’s see his heat maps for the game against the Union (right) and Chicago Fire (left):
Not bad for an MLS rookie who’s only played in four games. Diallo got forward in both games, and he did work in the defensive third. At 6’0”, he’s able to effectively be a third center back (as shown against Philly). He was a center back for Los Dos. He got forward against both teams, but was very proactive against the Fire. He had some good moments combining with Romain Alessandrini.
His teammates have been happy with his effort. Brian Rowe said after the Philly game that “he did a great job back there. I know he’s naturally left footed but he’s just powerful back there. Nothing got behind him and he’s well connected. He did a really good job.”
Take This With A Grain Of Salt:
Diallo is at fault in both goals the Galaxy gave up to the Fire. He and Daniel Steres got burned by David Accam in the box on the play that led to the PK call. On the second goal, Diallo was up field when a pass to him was intercepted. That sprang the counter attack where Accam found Nemanja Nikolić who scored.
Now, the Frenchman isn’t the most guilty on either of these plays. Jelle Van Damme and Rowe ran into each other on the PK call. Van Damme ultimately committed the foul. Several other players also didn’t track back on the second goal, and they had less distance to cover. David Accam makes a lot of more experienced defenders look silly.
These were also two home games against Eastern Conference teams who came in playing for a draw. The stats and the film should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of his offensive actions against Chicago came after they had conceded two goals and were throwing numbers forward.
Diallo clearly provides another option for Onalfo. He might not be as fast as Nathan Smith, but he can get forward into the attack. He can also be essentially a third center back if the defense is struggling. He’s good in the air.
Considering the quality of opponents, it’s not clear if Bradley Diallo at right back is a better option than Smith at this point. But he has a different skill set.
That makes him another option for Onalfo. That makes him useful.