When the oppurtunity presented itself, LA had to act.
After Atlanta United announced their decision to hire Dutchman Frank de Boer ahead of Guillermo Barros Schelotto who also interviewed for the job, newly minted GM Dennis te Kloese had a window to bring the experienced Boca Juniors manager with two league titles to Dignity Health Sports Park.
It was the right choice. (Days later glancing at photos of DtK and GBS in Orlando scouting talent at the MLS combine, you had the impression the two minds were already forming a successful partnership)
Not that it’s been all plaudits for Schelotto. For much of the 2019 season the Galaxy have come under criticism for playing a one-dimensional style football dependent on Zlatan shouldering the scoring load, in contrast to the stylish football of Bob Bradley’s attacking juggernaut across town.
There’s some truth to this observation, but similar to how LAFC have performed without Carlos Vela, Schelotto’s group have spent a majority of the season short an attacking presence that fundamentally compromises their ability to execute in the final third. While the limitations of the attack with Ibra up front have been exposed, LA’s struggles appear to have originated from personnel not tactical issues.
Case in point? This season the Galaxy have posted a 16-13-3 record and are currently 3rd in the packed Western Conference standings with two games to go.
With attacking winger Romain Alessandrini in the lineup, LA are a perfect 5-0-0. Keep in mind the Frenchman was playing below his usual standards, the team just signed Joe Corona and had yet to acquire Favio Alvarez. Despite his poor form however, Alessandrini’s presence was vital.
Thrust into the lineup days after his arrival, Cristian Pavón has provided that same danger with a different look, recording an assist in six straight matches and creating knock on effects around the pitch. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has 12 goals with Pavón on the pitch and other teammates have begun to pick up the slack in front of net.
Whereas the Galaxy’s early run was defined by one-goal victories and a few fortunate moments, GBS’ new-look side have scored 23 goals in the Argentine international’s nine appearances. No longer struggling mightily in transition, the Galaxy can hurt you on the counter-attack and have even picked off goals from pressing in the final third.
When LA can deploy dangerous attacking wingers on both sides of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy are a different team. With either Pavon or Alessandrini in the lineup, the Galaxy are 9-4-3, a record good for a 65 point season.
While Guillermo has gotten the big calls right on the field, his encourage have also played a major role in LA’s season. Performance coach Javier Valdecantos has properly trained the players and restored confidence to a department once fraught with mistrust. Under goalkeeper coach Juan José Romero, David Bingham has improved on his 2018 form and strengthened his aerial ability.
Perhaps no one has been more instrumental than his contacts in Argentina who helped Guille acquire a player in Cristian Pavon who was once valued at 50 million dollars.
After years of disappointment, the expectations for the Galaxy this upcoming season will be sky-high. The bar for success has been raised thanks to the diligent work of GBS and his technical staff.