The LA Galaxy are seen as standard bearers in MLS, and after the nadir of 2017-18, last year showed a revival on tap for the club, as they returned to the MLS Playoffs and made progress.
2020 was expected to be another year of progress, and two games into the season, that hasn’t been on display, as they’ve posted a 0-1-1 record against two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year.
On the bright side, the defense looks pretty decent, with Nick DePuy playing well so far and the unit only conceding two goals in two games.
But the attack has been a disaster, basically. It’s early days but red flags are flying.
In Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, LA had one shot on target all night, a truly poor showing considering they had Chicharito and Cristian Pavon on the field. It’s worse than the opening week against the Houston Dynamo, when they posted four shots on target, and few would consider the season opener to be a sparkling offensive performance.
Is this a crisis? The glass-half-full perspective would note that it’s merely two games into the season, there’s 32 to go, there’s a need to integrate the new people on the roster, they’re all looking for fitness, etc.
But the red flags are flying by the attacking style being utilized and Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s postgame explanations after another flat performance. After opening week, Schelotto said the Galaxy needed to cross more, a strategy that was limited when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on the team, but still effective enough with the Swede’s force of gravity to pull some of those crosses in and score.
Chicharito can score on crosses, but that’s not his primary strength, given his normal human size, and the fact that teams like the Whitecaps counter his potential by marking him in the box and shooing away crosses.
You can see some of that on display in this video, where Matt Doyle breaks down what’s concerning about the cross-happy approach.
“I am disappointed with the result today,” Schelotto told reporters after Saturday’s game. “I don’t think we deserve to lose today, but sometimes in soccer, it’s not about who deserves to win, it’s about who scores.”
To those who watched the game, even Galaxy partisans, that was not how the game unfolded. Vancouver didn’t boss the game, but they got better and better as the match went on and they certainly didn’t snatch a deserved win for LA.
Even as the game went on, Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones because increasingly exasperated on the Spectrum Sportsnet call about how slow LA were playing, how they were not making it work, and the performance got worse over the course of the 90 minutes. They aren’t known for calling the sky red if it benefits the Galaxy, but the disappointment they could not contain was palpable!
As a result, Schelotto’s insistence that “we are going to keep going with what we were doing last season which is to control the game and attack and achieve it this time” and his explanation that the Galaxy deserved to win introduces some real doubt. Is he aiming to keep spirits high for his team and stay positive with the press? Or does he really think crossing 27 times a game with no progress and doing more of the same is the way to go?
That’s the conundrum. If Schelotto is aiming to put the attention on himself, leaving the public to question him instead of the players individually, it may be a savvy strategy to weather what is hoped to be a blip in the Galaxy season. But if he insists cross and pray is the way to go, and somehow the bodies marking Chicharito will just stop doing that at some point and the breakthrough will come, that’s a major concern.
So long story short, it’s early. A momentary struggle in March won’t resonate if the Galaxy are cruising in the fall, but the playing style and lack of execution doesn’t seem to inspire confidence they will cruise eventually this season, either.
Is it a crisis? Time will tell. But after a totally flat home opener, there is very real cause for concern at this stage.
What do you think? Are you fearing a crisis for the Galaxy or is it too soon to get to that stage? Let’s chat in the comments below!