Editorial (November 29, 2018) – The 2018 LA Galaxy season was ultimately a spectacular failure. They finished with a 13-12-9 record, good for 48 points and seventh in the MLS Western Conference. They finished just one point short of Real Salt Lake, the last team to make the playoffs.
2018 LA Galaxy Season Review
This season started with renewed optimism. Sigi Schmidt was starting his first full season back as head coach. The club brought in a bunch of new faces on defense. They traded for Ola Kamara. Just a month into the season, the Galaxy finally completed a five year chase to sign forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They won the first El Trafico in dramatic fashion over Los Angeles FC in Ibrahimovic’s debut.
Ibrahimovic and it’s not even close. He recorded 22 goals and 10 assists. If it weren’t for Josef Martinez breaking the MLS single season goal record, he could have won the golden boot and maybe MVP. He put the team on his back, scoring big goals in both how they determined the game and highlight reel.
He nearly willed the club to the playoffs and was a treat on and off the field. The media found him witty and fun. The fans couldn’t get enough of him. He brought MLS more recognition internationally, and broke the World Football Internet with his first goal.
What went wrong in 2018
A lot of stuff. The defense was absolute shambles regardless of who was playing. David Bingham took awhile to get settled. The most expensive backline in MLS history was terrible with expensive players under-performing.
Giovani dos Santos was a massive disappointment, recording just 3 goals and 2 assists in 14 appearances. He slept walked through the first half of the season to prevent getting hurt before the World Cup. He played in just three games in the last three months of the season.
Schmidt departed the club mid-season for the Front Office to scapegoat him for their bad roster construction. Dominic Kinnear couldn’t resurrect the season enough as the Galaxy missed the playoffs on Decision Day in a 3-2 loss despite leading Houston Dynamo 2-0 at halftime.
What went right in 2018
Ibrahimovic. Jonathan dos Santos once the coaching change happened and Kinnear simplified things tactically. Dos Santos never clicked with a midfield partner and was much better as a solo No. 6. That freed up Sebastian Lletget, back from injury, to be a box-to-box midfielder. Kamara was productive offensively.
Away from the first team, teenage Homegrown Efrain Alvarez cut his teeth with LA Galaxy II with several eye-popping performances.
While the Galaxy didn’t make the playoffs, they did manage to go undefeated on the year against tne noisey neighbor to the north, LAFC. In two games at StubHub Center, they won 4-3 (Ibrahimovic’s debut) and drew 1-1. In the single game at LAFC, they drew 2-2 despite giving up the first two goals.
What they need to do to improve in 2019
Lots of things. The Galaxy still need a General Manager and Head Coach as Chris Klein is the only one left in the Front Office he hasn’t parted ways with to point the finger. Those hires are first and foremost and Klein’s track record is not good when it comes to these decisions, having fired coaches in back-to-back seasons.
The Galaxy need to compose a competitive team to retain Ibrahimovic for the 2019 season. Defensive alternatives are needed with little wiggle room financially. Then there’s the contract of Giovani dos Santos, who made $5.5 million in 2018 (40% of the Galaxy’s total team salary). The club needs to find a way to get something valuable out of that, whether it’s him actually playing and producing or off-loading the contract to finally be rid of his dead weight.