2019 LA Galaxy Season Preview: Three Key Questions

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CARSON, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Galaxy team poses for photos prior to their game against the Colorado Rapids at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 23, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Editorial (March 1, 2019) – Earlier today, the LA Galaxy announced that they’ve bought out Designated Player Giovani dos Santos. With that, the club is now roster compliant. They also sold Ola Kamara to China earlier this week. With that, we now know what the LA Galaxy are going to look like in 2019 and I can finally preview their season.

The 2018 LA Galaxy season was a roller coast. The club rebuilt over the off-season with Sigi Schmidt (rest in peace). Then they broke the internet in signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic just in time to win their first latch with Los Angeles FC in dramatic fashion. The defense again struggled. It took six months for the coaching staff to realize Jonathan dos Santos was better without a defensive midfield partner. Zlatan scored goals but mistakes cost them points. The club ultimately blew a 2-0 lead against Houston Dynamo to miss the playoffs on Decision Day.

2019 LA Galaxy Season Preview: Three Key Questions

Now the Galaxy have a new general manager in Dennis te Kloese, a new head coach in Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and some new players. The clock’s ticking on Ibrahimovic and the Gs are in win-now mode.

What is the defense going to look like?

The Galaxy defense has been abhorrent the last two seasons. The Curse of A.J. appears to be real with no right back being able to stay fit for more than a month. GBS has brought in some new players and moved Jorgen Skjelvik to a left back that might help. The Galaxy are also going to be better up the middle with Sebastian Lletget healthy.

The defensive players have to play better, individually and collectively. David Bingham has to be better in goal. The midfield has to do a better job protecting their greatest weakness. If all this happens, the Galaxy won’t have to win every game 3-2. If the defense is just average, the club should make the playoffs.

The offense is Zlatan and . . .

With Kamara gone, the Galaxy have serious depth issues at forward. Ibrahimovic could easily win the Golden Boot this year. But with Kamara gone, who plays next to him? Chris Pontius is ok for his age. Emma Boateng is fast but can’t finish. Romain Alessandrini moving from wide midfield to underneath striker doesn’t sound horrible.

With Kamara gone, opposing defenses will focus on nuetralizing Ibrahimovic and betting against his forward partner to punish them. Lletget and Alessandrini will bring some offense from the midfield, but are more assist-men than goalscorers. Without Kamara or an immediate quality replacement, everything up the middle will be to Ibrahimovic and if he’s got both center backs on him, he’ll have trouble. Kamara would have been a check to keep the opponent honest. Now that’s gone and more weight got put on Zlatan’s old shoulders.

Can this team compete for a championship?

Every move the Galaxy have made this off-season (short of being forced to sell Kamara) says that they want to win now. The fans want to see the Galaxy back in the playoffs. Ibrahimovic wants a trophy. Ownership needs a response to their noisy neighbors just up the freeway.

Two years ago, the Galaxy were the standard bearers of MLS. They were defined by their trophies and by winning with big players who shined in big games. They’ve been a shell of their legend since 2015. Galaxy seasons are defined as successful silverware and silverware alone. Put up or shut up.

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