EDITORIAL – The 2019 LA Galaxy season is over. Fortunately for Galaxy Supporters, as of last night so is LAFC’s season. The Galaxy returned to the playoffs in 2019 but suffered their first ever El Trafico loss to end their season last Thursday. Let’s take a look back at 2019 and see what it means going into 2020.
2019 LA Galaxy Season Review: Hype Unfulfilled
The Galaxy got off to a good start this year, winning seven of their first nine league matches. Performances through the summer got inconsistent as Dennis te Kloese and Guillermo Barros Schelotto added players who needed time to acclimate. The team became Jekyll-and-Hyde.
At their best, the defense would only give up a goal or two and the offense would steamroll opponents. At their worst, the offense would struggle being too dependent on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They were just good and consistent enough to make the playoffs, barely beat Minnesota United then lose to LAFC.
There’s two schools of thought. As Taylor Twellman likes to put it, Zlatan’s the best player on the Galaxy, but Jonathan dos Santos is the most important. Prior to Cristian Pavon arriving, Zlatan had more goals than the rest of the team combined. If he was unavailable for the game, the Galaxy were going to struggle to score goals. But JDS was the engine in the midfield and the only player who genuinely contributed on both sides of the box. Zlatan made the highlight reels, but Dos Santos was the straw that stirred the drink.
What went wrong in 2019:
The defense, the end of the season, and possibly relationships with Ibrahimovic. The new leadership brought in Diego Polenta and Giancarlo Gonzalez, who arguably were terrible at times and in the playoff game at LAFC. No matter the rotated cast, formation, or who Schelotto put in front of them, this team gave up goals. Individual mistakes were punished. Quality tore them apart. They couldn’t mark well 1-v-1.
The Galaxy, mostly Zlatan, had an arrogance around them in the second half of the season. They didn’t seem to care about individual results or dropping points to lesser clubs because of bad performances. When this team wanted to (especially against LAFC), they could flip the switch and be a great team. So as long as they made the playoffs, they’d turn on their best form and beat anyone, including LAFC. How’d that work out?
What went right in 2019:
Zlatan’s individual numbers and some other minor attacking features. Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals, the most ever by a Galaxy player, finishing second in the Golden Boot. Pavon added a nice spark when he arrived in the middle of the season. Favio Alvarez and Efrain Alvarez had some good moments. Romain Alessandrini’s return in the playoffs from an injury was welcomed but too little and too late.
What they need to do to improve in 2020:
There’s a lot of uncertainty going into 2020 right now. Ibrahimovic is out of contact and has alluded to his frustrations with MLS on several occasions. There’s rumblings that others in the club wouldn’t miss him being gone and that many are scared to cross him. It’s been difficult for GBS to truly implement his 4-3-3 system with a relatively immobile No. 9 who demands the ball, rides teammates, and sucks up all the oxygen in the room.
Alessandrini’s also out of contract. Does the club bring either of them back? Could they bring Alessandrini back as a non-DP to allow them to fully sign Pavon as a DP? These are questions Te Kloese and Schelotto need to answer correctly for the club to have success in 2020.
On the other side of the field, the defense is still really bad. Both additions the current leadership brought in haven’t panned out. Even if the Galaxy resolve their DP situation for the better (in output, team chemistry, and money), it’s hard to see how they’ll have more room to make defensive signings.
The club needs another center back and a fullback probably to be good defensively. There is little room for error if the Galaxy want to move back to the upper echelon of MLS in 2020.