After giving up eleven goals in back-to-back losses, the LA Galaxy managed to bounce back with a 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders last week. However, Sunday’s clean sheet should be taken with a grain of salt.
Throughout the year, the team has had major issues keeping the ball out of its own net. So far this season the LA Galaxy has conceded 59 total goals to opposing teams. Only the hapless Quakes and Orland City have given up more.
Despite LA’s defensive struggles, the team is still on the hunt for a playoff spot. Through the efforts of Ibrahimovic, Alessandrini and Kamara, the team has managed to score 57 goals this season, tied with LAFC for the second most goals in the league.
Only Atlanta United, the team most likely to clinch the Supporters Shield, has outscored the Galaxy this season.
Considering that the team has had few issues with scoring up top and the midfield has looked solid for the most part, there’s no real need for drastic changes there. The team’s problems stem from the backline.
Outside of signing one or two younger center midfielders to add depth, the team’s biggest priority should be to sign defenders. The Galaxy needs to go after young center backs and fullbacks.
At 37, left back Ashley Cole just doesn’t have enough in the tank to play his position well. His lack of speed and tendency to roam forward often leaves open gaps for the opposing team to expose. Right back Rolf Feltscher has also offered little consistency for the Galaxy this season. He has struggled with marking and lacks the pace and defensive positioning to stop opposing players from getting passes into the penalty box.
With Cole nearing the end of his career and Feltscher continuously falling short of expectations, the team needs fresh legs at the fullback position. The Galaxy should consider going after players who can offer pace, defensive discipline and explosiveness.
It would also help to sign full backs that can feed serviceable crosses into the penalty box for Ibra and Kamara. Someone with a profile similar to Jamaican international Kemar Lawrence of the New York Red Bulls would be a perfect fit for the Galaxy.
The front office should also make it a priority to sign young, versatile center backs who could offer the club some defensive depth.
Jorgen Skjelvik has struggled this season in the back and has often committed poor fouls near the penalty box. He lacks the awareness and discipline to be a solid defender in the starting lineup alongside Dave Romney. Center back Michael Ciani also offers very little as a starter. At the age of 34, he just isn’t quick enough to keep up with the league’s best attackers. There are often moments where he losses focus and ball watches instead of marking in the penalty box.
One-sided losses throughout the season have proven that Skjelvik and Ciani shouldn’t be getting significant minutes in the starting lineup. The team should be on the hunt for center backs that can offer consistency and security in the back. Justen Glad of Real Salt Lake would be a nice fit.
Prior performances have shown that there’s really only one major area of concern for the LA Galaxy heading into the offseason. If the club can address those holes in its backline, it shouldn’t have much trouble getting into the playoffs next year.