Prediction is a difficult thing, especially in sport where things rarely go according to plan. I've been using Who Scored lately as a jumping off point since they added MLS statistics to their website. One thing that's been true in this last stretch for the LA Galaxy is season-long trends haven't held up as players shuffled in and out of the lineup.
Against Real Salt Lake, the match forecast said it was very likely that the LA Galaxy would create many scoring chances and RSL would score from a wing-play situation. RSL did end up creating scoring opportunities from the flanks, with a late cross scoring the go ahead goal. However, LA were held to just eight total shots, two of those on target.
Getting Robbie Keane back for the match against the Timbers, LA's scoring chances went back up and it was notable that there were a high number of scoring chances relative to their possession. We also saw the beginning of a trend that stayed true through the match with Chivas, getting a number of scoring chances from set pieces.
Against Chivas, it was forecast that the Galaxy scoring off a counter would be extremely likely. There was a good chance for a fast break with Donovan and Robbie Rogers running a two on two but Rogers took a bad touch ending the opportunity. Tempo Free Soccer noted the LA was averaging 6.5 passes per Chivas turnover, as instead of breaking LA were forced into long passing sequences against the Goats. The result was a fair amount of possession in the attacking half and many free kicks around the box.
Thus far this year, the Galaxy's ability to finish scoring opportunities has been a strength. Which makes this recent trend of being poor at finishing troubling. Robbie Keane played behind Gyasi Zardes for much of the match last night, and has only taken one shot since returning from international duty. Against Portland Keane was the man up top, but didn't pull the trigger at all.
Keane not shooting has led to more shots from the midfield, a trend that started showing up in Salt Lake. Low percentage shots from outside the penalty area aren't ideal. Having Robbie Rogers take three shots, or two from Todd Dunivant, doesn't inspire confidence.
I made a pretty big stink about Arena going with a 4-3-3 against Salt Lake. It's the popular formation these days because Spain uses it, in fact the US youth levels are essentially required to use it. Sites like Who Scored can show us that LA use more of a 4-1-2-1-2. Juninho ends up as the attacking mid, and Sarvas slots back as the defensive mid.
LA still need to find their attacking rhythm with Gyasi Zardes up top and Robbie Rogers on the flank. If they continue maintaining possession in the attacking third and limiting chances defensively, all the other strengths are sure to return.