After years of watching the LA Galaxy defense melt down (usually in the last 20 minutes of games), it’s absolutely shocking to start a game with the commentator saying the Galaxy are “one of the best defensive teams in the league.”
Yes, LA. This defense led by Derrick Williams kept a prolific Austin FC team to zero shots on goal for the first half. That was a rare sighting in previous years, and in this instance it was actually Séga Coulibaly who put in an absolute great shift. Coulibaly appears to have had a resurgence at the back, and the Williams and Coulibaly duo are winning games. They are the center back pairing the Galaxy want right now.
That said, set pieces and crosses still caused heartburn all game, and Jonathan Bond struggled to communicate with his defense. He also had a couple of uncomfortable goalkeeping plays that caused consternation.
On the offensive side of Sunday’s 1-0 win, Mark Delgado took advantage of Austin’s backup goalkeeper with an absolute beauty of a shot that banged the post and went in. Turned out such a finish doomed the rest of the Galaxy front line as they were incredibly profligate in front of goal. Samuel Grandsir and Chicharito missed chances they should have finished. And Efrain Álvarez has looked pretty poor for several games now with bad decision after bad decision, and some pretty bad ball control.
The biggest issue wasn’t surprisingly Kevin Cabral (who should have had an assist), but the play of Douglas Costa. He’s been defensively poor, and offensively absent. Grandsir has outplayed him — even with his atrocious finishing — and deserves his starting spot. This is a problem for a very expensive designed player, and the Galaxy should take a hard look at whether they should be footing Costa’s bill in July. At this rate, the answer should be a firm no.
A clean sheet victory is a great result, and the Galaxy are sitting near the top of the table — thanks to a surprisingly sharp defensive unit.
- Séga Coulibaly - critical clearance in the 12th minute right in front of goal. Earned a yellow for persistent infringement on Urruti in the 28th minute. Threw his body in front of the shooter twice, throwing them off. Great last man tackle in the 80th minute. Man of the Match
- Mark Delgado - what a strike for his first goal for the LA Galaxy. Sets himself up with a great touch, then hits an absolute banger off the post. Took a tactical foul yellow card on a breakaway in the 14th minute. Should have had an assist to Grandsir to end the game. Two key passes.
- Derrick Williams - missed a clearance in the 29th minute leading to a dangerous chance. Big clearance in the 59th minute right in the middle of the box. Yellow card on a tactical foul in the 67th minute to stop a breakaway.
- Rayan Raveloson - had his pocket picked in the 43rd minute leading to an Austin chance. That said, much better protective midfield pressure. Long distance shot to end the first half forced a save. And since I’ve ragged him about it in the past: duels won, 80%.
- Julian Araujo - has really shored up his defensive game, has gone missing on offense.
- Chicharito - missed the great pass from Cabral to end the first half.
- Kévin Cabral - not in the right place in the 33rd minute for a shot off Chicharito. Finally sent in the ball he should have to end the first half, and Chicharito missed it — should have been an assist.
- Raheem Edwards - surprisingly quiet game, didn’t bomb forth as much as usual, even when moved to midfield.
- Jonathan Bond - bad punch on a cross in the 41st minute. Wasn’t on the same page with his defenders at various moments. In the right place for a save on Urruti to start the half. Earned a dumb yellow for time wasting in the 52nd minute. Save in the 59th minute but parried it into a dangerous area (thanks Williams!). Looked really, really uncomfortable.
- Dejan Joveljić - nearly caught Tarbell off his line to end the game.
- Daniel Aguirre - wrong pass in the 94th minute broke down a chance.
- Sacha Kljestan - didn’t do much in his minutes.
- Chase Gasper - took a yellow on a long ball to give up a dangerous free kick in the 88th minute. In general looked rusty, but it was his first game for LA.
- Efraín Álvarez - should have done better in the 28th minute playing the ball in front of Chicharito for what looked like a sure goal. 0 key passes and his pass completion rate was 64%. WOOF.
- Douglas Costa - decided defense was optional with a jog to NOT close down an Austin player in the 17th minute. The resulting cross should have been finished. Giveaway machine and mercifully subbed off. In current form, Grandsir is better.
- Samuel Grandsir - bad finishing continued to nip him, shot at the keeper in the 89th minute on a breakaway and wasted another chance at the death. He has got to do better with both.
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