There’s been one big change for the LA Galaxy two games into the 2020 season: The defense looks alright so far.
With the headlines being taken by the sputtering attack this year, something going under the radar so far is that the Galaxy have been decent on defense, their Achilles’ heel the last several years.
Last year, LA conceded 59 goals, which is a rate of about 1.74 goals conceded per game. For a playoff team, that’s not good! For a team trying to contend, forget about it!
Through two games, the Galaxy have let in two goals, an even one goal per game rate. The sample size is tiny, of course, but there’s promise.
Most notably, Nick DePuy has been pretty impressive as he’s been thrown into a rough situation. The California native did play center back last year for LA Galaxy II, getting reps in the USL Championship, but going from MLS squad player as a forward for the Montreal Impact, to moving all the way to defense and starting for the Galaxy in central defense in a few short years is pretty remarkable.
It’s worth noting that DePuy hasn’t been perfect, but he’s willing to take a big risk and could develop a real knack for it. Even on the goal conceded in Houston, DePuy made the sacrifice to his body to try and get a block on the shot and very nearly pulled it off:
In contrast, he tried to execute a sliding tackle outside the box against the Vancouver Whitecaps and got skinned, leading to the sequence where the visitors scored the winning goal.
“The ball was played behind,” DePuy told Corner of the Galaxy about that play. “We had a lot of guys back defending. I left my feet, which probably wasn’t the right decision. However, [Adnan] was in front of me, so I was trying to kick the ball away and out of bounds over the end line. It was frustrating … they had one, maybe two chances the whole game and scored.”
When DePuy was signed this offseason, I joked that he could be the new Daniel Steres. Steres is still on the team and could very well take over for DePuy when he is fully over his preseason injury, but DePuy’s learning curve has been steep and he’s one to watch.
In addition, the other newcomer to the defensive unit so far has been Emiliano Insua. The Argentine is regarded as an excellent crosser — probably not music to the ears of those who don’t want the Galaxy to cross so much, but maybe his service will lead to more chances? Insua has size, at 5-foot-11 and 174 lbs, which complements the right back, Rolf Feltscher, who looks like a linebacker compared to most fullbacks. Full-time players in the wide defensive positions tend to be small, wiry players, and Feltscher and Insua offer a much more robust physical presence, something Feltscher loves to deploy.
In the goal conceded in Houston, Insua failed to pick up the throughball that set up Mauro Manotas. At the same time, you can pick apart literally any defender when a goal is ever conceded and chances are they were involved in a lapse or screw-up.
The fourth defender so far has been Giancarlo Gonzalez, whose return to MLS has not gone well, to be honest. The Costa Rican was expected to provide an immediate boost and he did not last year, and on Saturday only David Bingham prevented him from being punished for a truly silly challenge in the LA box.
At the risk of undercutting my argument, not only is the season only two games old, but both the Dynamo and Whitecaps missed the playoffs last year. Neither team is projected to make the postseason this year. So maybe giving up only one goal to each team is less impressive than the most minimum of expectations, something that the Galaxy ought to deal with if they could score a couple goals a game.
All that said, it’s early and we’ll have to see how the defense holds up and who plays over a long stretch. These opening games could be a mirage or they could have turned over a new leaf in 2020. If the defense is the real deal, that would be welcome news indeed for the LA Galaxy.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!