EDITORIAL – The 2019 LA Galaxy season is over. The club made it back to the playoffs behind Zlatan Ibrhimovic and Jonathan dos Santos. After a win at Minnesota United, they set up the first ever playoff El Trafico, and lost to Los Angeles FC. This sets up LAFC with great momentum after their first ever win against their crosstown rival to win MLS Cup. Let’s take a look at how LA Galaxy lost El Trafico on Thursday.
How LA Galaxy Lost El Trafico
The biggest weakness for the Galaxy has been their defense all season. Diego Polenta and Giancarlo Gonzalez struggled through long stretches of their first season in MLS.
Whether it was individual mistakes from the collectively weak defensive core, total breakdowns, or a lack of effort by the attackers to help out, this team couldn’t keep a clean sheet. Manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto tried to change up the formation, personnel, and tactics to guard against this.
The other concern was their Jekyll-and-Hyde form. The Galaxy would regularly take big matches like their home-and-away regular season series with LAFC seriously. They would then not show up against lesser opponents and struggle in road games that featured great adversity.
There was a sense of arrogance around the team in their approach to the second half of the season. They’d shrug off disconcerting losses. Ibrahimovic and others believed as long as they just made the playoffs, they could flip the switch and turn into the team that was LAFC’s boogie man.
It turns out they were wrong. The Galaxy were the lesser team through 60 minutes in Minnesota. They were fantastic in individual moments to win 2-0. Still, they didn’t create many chances of their own accord. Zlatan didn’t move well and was less than his spectacular self. They let the Loons have plenty of the ball and they got the ball into the box. A better offensive team would have punished them.
A team like LAFC.
The Galaxy had a decent opening 10 or 20 minutes but faded after that. The team on the whole looked out of gas in the final 30 minutes. Being down two goals on three days rest will do that. Ultimately, the Galaxy’s defense was the expected downfall in this Greek Tragedy of a loss.
They’ve spotted LAFC a two goal lead in the past, but Bob Bradley’s side were more pragmatic in this game. They sat back after scoring those goals, forcing the Galaxy to commit more numbers forward with Ibrahimovic possibly exhausted on short rest. That opened the Galaxy up to counter attacks, two of which led to goals in the second half to make the game 4-2.
The Galaxy’s defensive issues were their undoing in this game, or at least their inability to overcome it. Ibrahimovic, Cristian Pavon, and company couldn’t flip a switch to outscore the best offense in MLS history. GBS couldn’t put together a game plan to make the team work on both sides of the ball.
Maybe it was all on the defense. Maybe it was on Ibrahimovic for only scoring one goal against LAFC. Maybe it was on the team being on three days rest. Maybe they just couldn’t adjust and overcome the LAFC side the played. It was likely a combination of all of these.
The Galaxy talked a big game about the playoffs and their ability to compete in one games playoffs. They came up short. One could argue they only looked good for 30 minutes through their two playoff games. Ibrahimovic might leave and the club’s 2020 looks very uncertain.
Because their obvious weakness that was known all year long undid them and the LA Galaxy lost El Trafico.