If you happen to follow moi on Twitter, longtime MLS writer Matt “The Armchair Analyst” Doyle is a RT staple of mine, and with good reason: The dude knows what he’s talking about. So when Doyle penned a few words previewing LA’s season, LAG Confidential felt compelled to share. Read the full article HERE.
Doyle opens by congratulating Sigi Schmid on a successful off-season makeover, comparing the overhaul to 2009 when Bruce Arena underwent a similar rebuilding job.
Then the hard questions are asked. Can Perry Kitchen play to his ability? Can Ola Kamara keep up his goal-scoring production outside of Columbus? Is Jorgen Skjelvik the answer at center back?
What would make it a great offseason, once we look back? Kitchen – who had a nightmare in Europe – has to put that behind him and play like the fringe USMNT talent he is, for one. Kamara has to prove he wasn’t a “system” striker (Gregg Berhalter has a way of getting his No. 9s tap-ins that other teams just don’t generate) for two. And for three, No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick Tomas Hilliard-Arce has to be a stud at central defense because I’ll admit to a level of worry about Skjelvik’s ability to be a rock. We’ve seen mixed results from CBs coming over from Scandinavia in the TAM era, and while I think Skjelvik’s a cut above many of the guys who’ve struggled, nobody’s under the illusion that he’s a defense-first center back. The guy balls, and needs a steady, no frills, athletic presence next to him.
Perry Kitchen has looked sharp this preseason. It certainly helps Schmid has played to Kitchen’s strengths by deploying the defensive midfielder in front of the back four, but the former D.C. United veteran is looking like a difference maker so far.
Same goes for Ola Kamara, who scored a brace during Saturday’s pre-season tune-up vs. the Quakes. Kamara’s finishing touch appears to be intact, but the No. 9 needs more opportunities in front of net, a responsibility that falls on Gio’s shoulders.
When LA first announced the Skjelvik signing, some fans suspected the Norwegian center back would be taking over for Ashley Cole, who had yet to re-sign with the club at the time. While Skjelvik is capable of playing left back, Jorgen was a superior center back during his spell at Rosenborg.
That being said, its correct to question his defensive abilities. Skjellvik has speed to burn and a quality first touch, but as Doyle notes, he needs a solid no-nonsense presence to pair with. Right now that appears to be Daniel Steres, but if the incumbent plays himself out of a starting job, Tomas Hilliard-Arce should be ready to step into the lineup.
Finally on ExtraTime Radio earlier today, Doyle reiterated the Million Dollar Question: Can the dos Santos brothers produce as Designated Players? How they perform in many ways dictates the Galaxy’s fate this season.