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Positives and Negatives: Playoffs Edition

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Woeful defense, goalkeeping and a lack of midfield pressure doom the LA Galaxy versus the Seattle Sounders. Major problems need to be solved in the off season.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Writing this article is difficult while feeling so numb, but here we go.

Bruce Arena following the game stated that the LA Galaxy gift wrapped the game for Seattle.  He was right.  Though the team's offense was able to claw a couple of goals back, and generate chances; poor decisions in the defensive half of the field doomed the Galaxy once again.  It's been a common refrain for the last two months, and it's something that will need to be solved in the off season.

In addition to the on field problems, LA has quite a bit to think about in regards to several players on their roster.  More on this below.

Here are positives and negatives to take away from this final game, and things to think about before starting up again in 2016.

Positives:

  • Gyasi Zardes:  He was phenomenal tonight.  His work rate was excellent, his pass to Lletget for an assist on the first goal sublime, and he had a goal too.  Beyond that, his physicality was eye opening and hit a new level, bodying off defenders continually to claim the ball.  His heat map has him continually pressing Seattle on the left and delivering in dangerous balls.  He had two tackles won, 5 interceptions, and 9 recoveries.  Ideally, LA gets to keep him in 2016.
  • Juninho:  Warrior continually slicing through the Seattle midfield.  Also had 2 key passes and an assist.  The ground he had to cover this game was massive, and he did it.  His passing game stretches from the final third all the way back to being the outlet for our defense.  Often seemed to cover central midfield by himself.  Crucial interceptions (10) and recoveries (12) all over the field.
  • Bruce's comments post-game: He was irate, knowing the team gave this away.  That shows some awareness.  HOWEVER, he needs to turn some of that awareness on himself and his choices.  Why play Gerrard so long?  Why Ricketts?
  • That's all I've got.

Negatives:

  • Steven Gerrard:  This is the biggest issue facing the team in the offseason.  He doesn't appear to have the lungs to last in games, and he is a liability on the field to the defense and Juninho.  He had a goal saving clearance, yes, but his lack of presence centrally meant Seattle waltzed through, helping lead to the track meet feeling of the first half.  He does have two key passes, but he is nowhere near as present as Juninho is centrally (and nowhere near what Sarvas used to do either), plus he has several bad passes and just doesn't show to make interceptions (only has three).  Was also a culprit on Seattle goal #2.  Bruce has to make a major call as to whether he thinks Gerrard has anything to give in 2016.
  • Goalkeeping:  Donovan Ricketts is done.  Has a giant fork sticking out of his back done.  We were wondering all season when he would cost LA a game.  It happened.  On the first goal, communication was a major problem.  Was shy to come out on the second goal.  Caught in complete no man's land multiple times in the lead up to the third goal.  LA needs a new goal keeper for 2016, and needs one asap to get ready for CCL.
  • The Defense: Bad communication between Omar Gonzalez and Ricketts on the first goal.  Terrible defending by Gerrard on the second goal.  And a miserable clearance by AJ DeLaGarza on the third goal.  Heck, the only decent defender may have been Leonardo (!) who was tidy and made no major mistakes.  Robbie Rogers also had a generally okay night minus some errant passes.  Based on Bruce's unhappy comments about the defense after the game, this will be a project as well.  What is the best CB combo?  Should the team return to AJ & Omar in the back and acquire a new RB?  Whether the team can keep Omar Gonzalez, or wants to, is going to be a major question during the off season. (In my opinion, you keep him.  Form is temporary, class is permanent.)
This game was frustrating because Seattle was there for the taking.  With better midfield balance and Rowe in net, the result may very well have been different.  Instead, LA is left pondering what could have been, and staring at a laundry list of questions going into a long set of months.  Months off that the players have not had in quite some time, not used to exiting this early.  Gonna be a long time to stew on this result.

Changes must happen to have any sort of shot in CCL.  Otherwise based on this display, the scoreline against Santos Laguna could be terrifying.

Time to make some changes.