There’s no getting around it: Daniel Steres had a poor game on Sunday, as a costly individual error allowed Jordan Morris to burn the center back and race towards Brian Rowe untouched before skillfully firing into the upper 90.
Which is fine. Say what you will about his left foot, but Morris is absolutely world-class at getting behind defenses, and it showed on the play. (I also happen to think he was fouled)
But the numbers don’t lie: The Galaxy have been leaking goals lately at a staggering clip, conceding four vs. the Sounders and eight overall in the past three matches. (That doesn’t include the three LA gave up on the road vs. Real Salt Lake) In fact, the Galaxy have been unable to keep a shutout since Nigel de Jong left. That’s a problem.
That last stat shows that the answer to LA’s defensive struggles might be more complicated than pointing at the back line. However, when you have a defensive specialist in AJ DeLaGarza available on the bench, at what point do you begin to think about utilizing the fan favorite?
Another graduate of Los Dos, Steres has enjoyed a fine season in his first active year with the senior team, punctuated by a perfect header past Nick Rimando during the Galaxy’s season opener. The six foot center back has become a regular in the back line alongside Jelle Van Damme, starting 28 games in MLS this year.
And yet, Sunday’s match was the latest in a string of performances where Steres has not been at the top of his game. After a successful season, could the Calabasas native finally be hitting the rookie wall?
The three-time USL Best IX defender might not be a rookie, but the 25 year old is still a baby at this level. After a long grueling season, you can become physically and mentally exhausted, which can lead to among other things, a loss of focus.
Something else to consider: As the season has progressed, the excellent Van Damme has become more and more aggressive with his play, to the point where Steres has transformed into an emergency defender. This means the center back is receiving less touches and making fewer defensive plays, both of which make Steres more susceptible to errors.
Enter AJ. Galaxy fans have been long clamoring for the longtime Galaxy servant to earn more playing time, and those voices only became louder after Sunday’s blowout loss. It’s hard to ignore what the Maryland product brings to the table: AJ is one of the smartest defenders in the league, and with him in the back, the team gives up less goals, period.
Corner of the Galaxy had a damning statistic to share this morning, revealing that LA have only conceded 19 times in the 20 games DeLaGarza has started.
Now, Josh believes AJ should replace Robbie Rogers, a move which similar to replacing Steres has its pros and cons. However, either switch could go a long way towards preventing the Galaxy from leaking more goals.