The Galaxy looked a whole lot brighter today, minus an early exodus of Baggio Husidic to what might be a long-term injury. The removal of Jermaine Jones (contrary to media opinion, it’s been his removal rather than a disciplining of Jelle Van Damme) has led to a midfield that plays simpler and with players that understand one another’s movement. That in turn has freed Giovani Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini to do some roaming, and fans have seen the benefit in goals scored and wins. The team looks like they are having fun, and the games cause less heartburn and nausea for the fans.
Today’s game against Minnesota saw more of the same - the Galaxy’s starting line up hasn’t been hard to figure out the last few games, but the movement of Dos Santos and Alessandrini has bamboozled opposing defenses. Note: it will go unheralded, but the insertion of Gyasi Zardes has also given the other two more creative playmakers room to shine. Zardes draws defenders when he plays up top, and that is critical to create space. He’s got a ways to go to start looking good himself, but replacing him is not an option right now. He is crucial to a midfield that is working.
Giovani Dos Santos: Much more creative and inventive in the attack, and is able to move further up the pitch with a defensively oriented midfield. An absolute golazo with the outside of his foot, but what was more impressive was his mentally being in the game for the full 90 minutes. Did miss Gyasi Zardes in the 2nd half on a promising counter - once Gio gets the ball off his feet quicker the Galaxy will score even more. He’s got to be a little less selfish.
Romain Alessandrini: Another assist, forced an own goal with an excellent freekick, and had a goal denied by an excellent save from Shuttleworth. I have no idea what I was complaining about earlier in the year. He’s been an absolute joy to watch, and singlehandedly got LA back into the playoff picture. Would have been nice if he hadn’t earned a yellow card for dissent.
Brian Rowe: Two excellent fingertip saves. Did get a little lost on a couple of corners, in particular when Boateng bailed him out with a goal line clearance. However, in general looked confident and had good judgment on ball movement.
Joao Pedro: Pedro continues to put together solid performances without Jermaine Jones in midfield and has managed to come forward on offense as well. Had a brilliant goal from distance denied by a great save by Shuttleworth and the crossbar. Also had two key passes and his chalkboard defensive actions aren’t too shabby either.
Rafael Garcia: Did his job after being inserted to replace Husidic with no warm up. Played simple in his natural position and it served him well.
Emmanuel Boateng: Didn’t get free with as much pace as he has in previous games, but was still a threat on the left. Missed what looked like a sure goal in minute 15 by scuffing it wide right. 1 key pass and a goal clearing header.
Ashley Cole: Beat defensively and looked slow down the left, but also had a critical goal line clearance and what looked like an assist to Boateng.
Daniel Steres/Jelle Van Damme: Nothing really to report (a good thing), though each earned a yellow card. Lots of defensive actions from both players who were periodically caught flat footed, but were bailed out of danger.
Gyasi Zardes: The guy needs to score a goal soon. He does so much excellent hard work dragging defenders around, but he looks like his confidence got left way back in March. His touch is murder right now, and he looks like he doesn’t want the ball near him. I hope Curt has him spending time with Dos Santos and Alessandrini to build confidence.
David Romney: He’s not a rightback, and it showed. Can’t really blame him. Burned on Minnesota’s first goal when he was caught ball watching and looked uncomfortable all game long. His passing game is a sea of red.
Baggio Husidic - Suffered a broken leg on turf in the first half. Awful injury, and here’s to hoping it’s not as bad as it looked.
Raul Mendiola/Jaime Villarreal: late subs though Mendiola in particular has to be far more careful to manage the ball in late game situations. Was looking to be the hero needlessly and gave up the ball in dangerous spots.