Curt Onalfo just did yesterday what Bruce Arena was unable to do in four years: Win a game on the East Coast. How did the manager who’s suddenly on a bit of a roll pull off the impossible? (Hint: It wasn’t just the blue kits)
With Gyasi Zardes operating as a No. 9 and Gio’s tendency to stay higher up the pitch, the 4-3-2-1 looked more like a 4-1-3-2, with Baggio Husidic occupying the central midfield and Joáo Pedro shielding the back four.
By making the change, the Galaxy ceded possession and were often put on the back foot by the Red Bulls, but LA were absolutely deadly in transition. Ema Boateng’s breakaway in the 7th minute should have been a clear warning to the hosts. A minute later, the Galaxy were on the board, and another minute later, LA had doubled the lead.
Speaking of warnings, during our talk with Once a Metro we warned New York not to underestimate Romain Alessandrini’s service on set pieces. While LA indeed capitalized on a restart, the Galaxy took all three points because they (finally) added a new dimension to the attack, and credit should go to Onalfo for figuring it out.
What else changed? To an individual, the team stepped up their play. Leading the way, Jelle Van Damme was back to his usual self:
With the Belgian captain committed to defending in conjunction with the absence of the freewheeling Jermaine Jones, the Galaxy were successful at keeping their shape and fending off the Red Bull attack with a bend-but-don’t break approach.
After a rough start, Joáo Pedro appears to be adjusting to the league. And let’s not forget about Giovani dos Santos, who after a slow start is quietly rounding into form with another goal and an assist on Sunday.
For perhaps the first team this season, the future looks bright.