The LA Galaxy defense has stepped up when it has mattered most, stopping the goal leakage and giving the offense the opportunity to work through their profligate finishing. The first half on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo in a 3-0 win was once again an exercise in watching the Galaxy squander their chances until Sacha Kjlestan did what a veteran does, calmly burying a penalty kick. At that point, the tide turned.
The Galaxy’s record when they score first is stellar, and this game was no exception. Derrick Williams is a big part of that, his return to form right as the Galaxy enter the end of regular season couldn’t have come at a better time. Nick DePuy has also suddenly discovered form, resulting in a center back pairing that doesn’t look like they’re constantly on skates. Who would have thought this two months ago?
Offensively the Galaxy continue to buzz around the attacking third, though finishing continued to be an issue in the first half. Own goal and penalties helped them out this week — no one is complaining. Then Kévin Cabral suddenly discovered composure and scored, which the Galaxy hope continues as they badly need another finisher up top.
Two less positive notes are that the Galaxy continue to look poor off set pieces, in particular headed shots on goal, and Niko Hämäläinen can’t seem to block or pressure a cross. Marking on set pieces seems nonexistent, and the team constantly looks like they’re caught unaware. Both things to work on if the Galaxy make the playoffs.
The Galaxy finally made the standings look accurate — they resoundingly beat a team they should have. That deserves some confetti. That, and a clean sheet.
- Kévin Cabral - Should have chipped the keeper in the 7th minute after being sent on a breakaway. Earned a penalty in the 37th minute. His industry and patience paid off to start the second half when he scored off a Chicharito pass up the left. Man of the Match (I’m just as surprised as you)
- Efraín Álvarez - hit the post after a bad giveaway by the Dynamo in the 2nd minute. Free kick on a dime to Chicharito resulted in a shot. That said, his cross resulted in an own goal.
- Nick DePuy - good clearance of a squared pass in the 17th minute. Followed this up with a sliding block. Got a yellow card in the 84th minute. Has earned his starting role.
- Derrick Williams - blocked a shot in the 24th minute. Another solid game to follow-up his excellent one against the Portland Timbers.
- Chicharito - sent Cabral on a breakaway in the 7th minute. Justifiably earned a yellow card for a dive (c’mon man). Absolute beauty of a shot off a set piece tested the keeper in the 19th minute. Earned an assist with a solid pass to Cabral for the Galaxy’s third goal.
- Sacha Kjlestan - Two for two on penalties for the week. Veteran player, veteran calm. Had an understanding with dos Santos, protecting the middle of the pitch.
- Jonathan dos Santos - lucky not to be punished for a bad giveaway in the 12th minute. Shot wide after being set up by Lletget in the 16th minute. Great creative ball to Álvarez in the 23rd minute resulted in a run into the box. Did the dirty work along with Sacha in the middle of the field.
- Sebastian Lletget - set up dos Santos in the 16th minute with a short pass. Set up Álvarez in the 32nd minute only for the youngster to shoot wide. Could have had two assists.
- Julian Araujo - Did not justifiably earn a yellow card for a tackle. Heavily involved in the attack compared to Niko on the left, and didn’t do much wrong defensively. Got some much-needed rest in the second half.
- Jonathan Bond - two saves off a back to back free kick and cornerkick to start the game. Diving save in the 75th minute, followed up by a parried save.
- Samuel Grandsir - should have set up Dejan in the 64th minute, passed behind the Galaxy forward. Still, love his directness.
- Dejan Joveljić - should have sent in Grandsir in the 71st minute off a lucky deflection.
- Oniel Fisher - did his job. Did let in a shot in the 75th minute. Prevented a goal at the very end of the game.
- Adam Saldaña/Séga Coulibaly - late sub.
- Niko Hämäläinen - he’s got to close down his man, preventing a cross. Too many crosses come from his side into the box. Jogged (!) instead of pressuring his man in the 54th minute. If the Galaxy were going to give up a goal, it would have been from him.
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