Don’t look now, but the LA Galaxy are top of the league in points per game. If you expected that coming into this season, go buy a lottery ticket. The Galaxy are winning even when they don’t play particularly well, which is what decent teams do. They are also winning without Romain Alessandrini, which I’m hoping is sustainable. That said, they are a Zlatan injury away from being bereft up top, and this team scares me when Jonathan Dos Santos leaves for the Gold Cup. Hoping Juninho can fill in, but so far he hasn’t seen much game time.
More exciting than the scoring is the fact that the defense doesn’t look like Swiss cheese. The Galaxy aren’t giving up tons of goals due to good play in the back from Steres and Polenta, and solid introductions from Araujo and now Traore. The youngsters are stepping up, and that’s reflected in the ratings below.
You’re Welcome (aka, Excellent)
· Diego Polenta – crucial interceptions and headers, and his well-timed run started the play that led to the winning goal. His rusty moments that started the season feel like they happened ages ago.
· Diedie Traore – the more Traore defended, nutmegged a RSL defender, and used his speed wisely, the more I hoped Skjelvik missed the flight home. Even when Diedie was pinned back in the second half. The kid also had a couple of key passes. Man of the match because he gave me hope Skjelvik will never be seen again.
Happy Lion (aka, Good)
· Zlatan Ibrahimovic – soft header saved to start second half. Needed to hustle back onside a little quicker. Seemed slow legged, and received a yellow card for petulant behavior. The last two games haven’t been his best, but let’s chalk that up to being tired. The goal was still lovely, and it still counted.
· Daniel Steres – tested the keeper off a corner kick. Was part of the duo that was ill positioned on RSL’s goal, but overall solid in the back. Not sure if Gonzalez should get time with how well Steres is playing.
· Chris Pontius – nice assist to Uriel for LA’s first goal after Zlatan dummied the pass. Fantastic work rate and movement in the first half, two key passes on top of the assist. Tested the keeper in the 34th minute. Dimmed in the second half, but he’s been out for awhile.
· Jonathan Dos Santos – solid and steady (he was the man of the match for the game against Minnesota). One of the best defensive midfielders in MLS right now (and should be a force at the Gold Cup based on his form so far).
· David Bingham – deflected the shot that went in for the RSL goal, nothing much he could have done. Made a couple of decent saves in the second half.
· Sebastian Lletget – active on the right hand side, provided the assist to Zlatan for the winning goal.
Sleeping Lion (aka, Okay)
· Joe Corona – should have scored in the second minute after a cutback from Pontius, instead skied his shot over the crossbar. Wasn’t as tidy with his passing either, might have been showing the exertion from the week.
· Rolf Feltscher – got into good positions on offense, but just couldn’t deliver the final pass. Looked rusty after being out for several weeks with his passes into the box missing their intended target. Not in a good position for RSL’s goal. Araujo still looks like the starter.
· Uriel Antuna – lost his man to score off of Pontius’s squared ball. Though he scored, he wasn’t very active and had a grand total of one (that’s right, one) forward pass. Seems to be swinging between hot and cold right now.
· Emmanuel Boateng – late sub.
· Servando Carrasco – late sub.
· Giancarlo Gonzalez – late sub.
The Lion Roars (aka, Poor)
· Amazingly, there is no one in this category. That’s what happens when you’re 7-1-1.