It’s fast times for Sigi Schmid and the LA Galaxy squad, with 26 days until a nationally televised opening kickoff and lots of work to be done. Regardless of whether the organization manages to sign Zlatan Ibrahimović, the coaching staff have the challenging task of integrating a new squad into a cohesive unit in relatively quick fashion.
Despite a lopsided 3-1 defeat vs. RSL Saturday in Tucson, the Galaxy put together a positive showing, specifically in the first 30 minutes when LA fielded a first-string lineup strongly hinting at what we might see vs. the Timbers.
Rolf Feltscher looks like the real deal, Jorgen Skjelvic showed his pace and quality and Perry Kitchen appears rejuvenated after his European adventures. The defense is considerably improved as well as LA’s ability to link from the back four to the midfield and keep possession.
There are however, some lingering question marks:
Who will partner next to Jorgen Skjelvik? Daniel Steres was up to the task Saturday, featuring over Michael Ciani and Dave Romney and forming a working partnership with the Norwegian center back. The MLS veteran appears to be the incumbent for now, but Steres must avoid the mental mistakes that have plagued the defender in the past.
Billed as the most MLS ready player in the 2018 SuperDraft, it was surprising to see Tomas Hilliard-Arce relegated to the third-string lineup that finished off the match, but its understandable to hold back the No. 2 overall pick for now. LA have some depth at the spot, and its smart to trot Ciani out knowing the club has been shopping the 33-year-old Frenchman around.
The left wing is the position most likely up for grabs. Sebastian Lletget was on the field for three minutes when the attacker stepped over a set piece and delivered a beautiful curving cross for Ciani to nod past Nick Rimando. The affable personality would step right into the starting role, but 11 months after suffering a painful Lisfranc injury, it’s going to take some time for Da Boy to work his way back to full fitness.
“I don’t think the fans should expect him to necessarily be in the starting lineup opening day,” Schmid said. “We want to make sure that we bring him along, because he’s a super huge piece for our team.”
Emmanuel Boateng performed adequately, but in the long-term the Ghanian probably works best as a super-sub. 2017 Gold Cup winner Chris Pontius is expected to compete for minutes, and if Sigi is serious about playing the kids, Bradford Jamieson IV deserves a look or two on the wing as well.
What happens if LA sign Zlatan?
The 36-year-old Swede is a larger-than-life figure, but not an weekly starter. Ideally Ibrahimovic replicates his 2016 performance for Manchester United as a game-change aerial presence on managed minutes.
The most likely game day scenario is Ibra directly replacing Ola Kamara, or if LA needs a goal you could always pull Steres and push Gio up top to really put the fear in opposing defenses.
We should have a better idea of Sigi’s plans following this Saturday when the Galaxy take on NYCFC in a preseason matchup at the StubHub Center.