We’re T-Minus six days until MLS is back. A newly invigorated blue white and gold will attempt to rebound from a horrific 2017 season, starting this Sunday at home vs. the Portland Timbers. (7 PT, FS1)
Sigi Schmid appears to have his starting lineup more or less set. After recovering from a Lisfranc injury Sebastian Lletget has progressed nicely this preseason, but true to his word Sigi has been hesistant to bring Da’ Boy back to full-time action too quickly.
One big glaring question mark remains: Jorgen Skjelvik does not have a full-time partner in central defense. Schmid must decide between three flawed options.
Pros: “Veteran”, “Experienced”, “Big presence in the box”
Cons: No number of European-laced superlatives can mask what other teams have picked up on: The 33-year-old Frenchman is slow and prone to mental lapses.
The Galaxy defense isn't... isn't good. pic.twitter.com/KEKgbqMii4— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) February 25, 2018
Pros: Most MLS-ready player in draft, dangerous aerial presence
Cons: Lack of experience
It’s rare for SuperDraft picks to see the field their rookie season. 2017 No. 1 Abu Danladi didn’t play much for Minnesota United until the halfway point, while Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson at No. 2 was a ghost. Fast forward to the No. 8 pick however, and you have Julian Gressel. Known at the time as the most MLS-ready player of the draft, Gressel flourished as a key-contributor to the Five Stripes’ high-powered attack en route to a Rookie of the Year award.
By all accounts Tomas Hilliard Arce is a winner, and as we saw in consecutive matches during the preseason, the Stanford three-time NCAA Champion knows how to put away a header. So why haven’t we seen more of the rookie?
"He learns pretty quickly. When you’re a young player, you’re going to make some mistakes because there are going to be new situations for you and the game is going to be quicker. I like about him is that he learns quickly and adjusts quickly." - Sigi on THA— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) February 21, 2018
Clearly Sigi doesn’t think he’s ready. Which is fine: It’s wise for Schmid to not hand the reigns over to Hilliard-Arce until the right time. The concern is, do the Galaxy have the luxury of waiting for TBA to develop at the expense of keeping out what could very well be the best option?
Pros: Solid CB presence
Cons: Doesn’t appear to partner well with Skjelvik
The Galaxy’s 4-2 defeat to the Quakes earlier this month may have been marred by defensive miscues, but it also exposed the assumptive starting duo of Steres and Skjelvic. All too often the Galaxy veteran was caught out of position while San Jose broke through the back four with relative ease.
The Quakes’ second tally above highlights Steres’ indecisiveness, as the defender neither steps up to forward Danny Hoesen nor anticipates his movement, allowing the Dutch attacker to slip Chris Wondowlowski inside for a shot that would lead to a goal.
Sigi’s got a decision on his hands.