Correction: In a major blunder on our parts, we somehow mistook Brian Rowe for Jaime Penedo, despite the fact they look nothing a like. There really is no one to blame but myself, and I take full responsibility for any confusion this caused.
Preseason is underway, however, fans of the LA Galaxy have yet to see them play as the team has only played a series of closed door scrimmages. On Friday, the Galaxy played in yet another closed door scrimmage. This time however, LAG Confidential was on site to bring you everything you wanted to know. You're welcome Galaxy fans.
The Galaxy lineup like this to start the game.
As a whole, the team looked pretty good. The back line was shakey, with Todd Dunivant, Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez all making their fair share of positional mistakes, but only Duivant I’d say was doing it more so than usual. He definitely showed some rust and was at fault for Seattle’s first goal, a curled Marco Pappa shot.
The real standout on the back line, however, was Robbie Rogers, who honestly had one of if not THE best half I have ever seen him play since coming back to the states. Rogers was fit, sharp and was incredibly active in the attack. I know it’s only 45 minutes of soccer, but in all honestly, seeing him at right back was a revelation of sorts.
While Robbie had a great year at left back last year, Donovan’s tendency to cut inside kind of positionally tied him down to making mostly outside overlaps, and for those that remember Robbie’s time in Columbus, cutting inside used to be a huge part of his game. Well, in this scrimmage, it was again. While Ishizaki does his fair share of drifting inside, for the most part, Ishi tends to hug the line. This allowed Rogers to make a lot of inside runs which are all the rage with full backs in the modern game. The beauty of it was, when those two advanced down the field, you never knew who was going inside and who was going outside, and neither did the defenders. Add to that, that both Rogers and Ishi excel in off the ball movement and combination play and it was truly a joy to watch.
When asked about it after practice, Bruce explained, "in Preseason, we look at all of the different options we have all over the field. As we experienced last season, we have to have players prepared to play a number of the spots in the back line," and further described it as a "good exercise."
Judging by these quotes, it doesn't seem like the staff is looking at this for any specific tactical reason, however, if Dunivant can get back to his old form, this is an option I would love to see the Galaxy experiment with. It’s offensively dynamic, and Rogers’ speed gives Stefan Ishizaki the defensive cover he needs to more safely push so high up the field.
Juninho and Baggio Husidic were quite good together. Their spacing was good, and they each made the right passes to keep the ball circulating. Baggio even bagged himself the first goal of the game, finishing off a good bit of combination work between Ishizaki and Keane. While Kenny Walker and André Auras put in decent shifts in the second half, neither were on the level of Husidic.
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for. Left mid is a big question mark for the Galaxy and it looks like Bruce is letting the kids fight it out for a starting spot. Back from his stint with the U20’s, Bruce gave Bradford Jamieson IV 45 minutes to make his case. How did the young starlet do? [Drum-roll]
Bradford’s performance in this game explained a lot in terms of why Ramos was lining him up as a forward for the U20’s. When he gets the ball around goal, look out, because this kid is goal dangerous, but if he’s running onto a Juninho ball outside the center circle, the chances that he makes a positive pass in a timely manner to keep that ball moving around the way the Galaxy like to do it— 50% at most. More often than not he’d put his head down and take people on, or take far too long to make the pass he needed to make. I think a comparison to Gyasi Zardes’ wing play can be made in this regard. For some systems, his final third abilities are worth the trade off, however, in the possession oriented Galaxy attack, it’s a bit of a liability.
Of course, I was often critical of Bruce’s common second half sub move of bringing Gordon on for Ishi and moving Zardes wide, so perhaps Bruce doesn’t quite see the tradeoff the same way I do.
In the second half, the Galaxy and Sounders trotted out entirely new lineups, the highlight of which was Ignacio "Nacho" Maganto, lining up against a super secret Sounders trialist who was very clearly Benji Joya (full disclosure, I didn’t notice until Mike Gray pointed this out). So how did Nacho do at left mid? Fan-friggin-tastic. This was my first time seeing this kid and he impressed the hell out of me. First of all, his technical ability is as advertised, and he handles himself extremely well when pressed—something many rookies out of college struggle with. More impressive, however, is his reading of the game. The kid has excellent vision and probably played a player on goal or into dangerous space at least 4 or 5 times in the half; however, I never once found myself thinking he was trying to do too much or force the attack when things weren’t there. Nacho is definitely a talent to watch and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has the inside track on the left mid position.