It’s the video being played over and over again, across all of the LA Galaxy faithful. If you somehow missed it, firstly, congratulations on escaping that rock you've been under! Second, we have it here for you to gaze upon in all its glory. 22-year-old striker Dejan Joveljić said a lot of great things in his postgame interview after scoring yet again in the team's 2-0 win at home this past weekend. Most notable was his very frank offering that he is the future of the Galaxy, and you know what, he isn't wrong.
"I have to say- amazing goal."— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 25, 2022
Dejan Joveljić takes @AlexiLalas and @RobStoneOnFOX through his 95' goal for @LAGalaxy ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/rZrJQ0tHU6
The first part of the interview is amazing in its own right. The matter-of-fact way he states his goal was amazing — which again, to be fair, it was quite amazing — the way he matter-of-factly states he is the future of the Galaxy, and how firm he is in his belief that given five minutes, ten minutes, or more, matters not. The only objective is scoring goals, and he's been damn good at it this season.
For some people, it was ‘cockiness’ that should be quelled and shouldn't be said out loud on national television. Those people are wrong. In fact, this team could use 18 more players with this exact attitude. If they did, they might be closer to the top of the conference, instead of having to fight for the last playoff spot.
Admittedly there's a fine line between confidence and overt cockiness, but Dejan isn't even close to that yet. He always thanks those around him, and recognizes he can't do it all alone, but he’s also aware that right now he gives the team their best chances to win, and often times, he gives the team their best and only, chances to score goals.
Luke Skywalkin' all over DHSP @JoveljicDejan is the #LAvATL @Gillete Player of the Match!#GillettePartner x #LookGoodGameGood pic.twitter.com/3Gmm1HTCoc— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) July 26, 2022
See, if we’re honest with how the Galaxy have played this year, it’s unfortunately been eerily similar to last season. The team started off well enough, won games they could feasibly lose, but then hit the invisible wall they tend to hit and looked off for weeks. Results were mixed, and the team fell from top three, to top eight, to now fighting for that seventh and final playoff spot. More importantly, they've been severely inconsistent. One match they're scoring four goals, looking unbeatable, the next match they're down three goals at home in the first half to teams they shouldn't be losing to let alone getting dogged by.
The problem for the G’s has been between the ears. The squad may not be the most talented in the entire league, but they are definitely a top team in that regard. They have great players at critical positions, so adding talent isn't the sole solution. The biggest problem they have is a lack of confidence. We see it in certain players — cough Cabral cough — but more so, we see it throughout the entire team. We’ve seen attacks look perfect right up until the final third where it all goes wrong. Several players have missed what many would consider to be easy goals, or find themselves going stretches without coming close to another.
Which brings us to the core of this column, the Galaxy need more to adapt the mentality that Joveljić has. The 22-year-old who hasn't shied away from any challenges, the young striker who doesn't run from adversity, but embraces it and the opportunity to achieve greatness. They need more players who understand what it means to play in LA, to play for the Galaxy, and who want to win above all. In fairness, Dejan isn't the only one. We see the same energy from Chicharito, who is always the first to own up to bad performances, while constantly giving his all every time he steps on the pitch. We also, a bit surprisingly, see it in Raheem Edwards. A defender who arrived just this offseason, after spending time with cross-town rivals LAFC. He came into the team and provided a level of intensity that's needed. He hasn't been quiet about wanting to beat rivals, then going out and doing it in big ways.
The problem is, that kind of necessity is intangible, meaning you can't just coach it, or review it on tape throughout the week. You can't bottle it and sell it, you just have to know it’s there. See it, and feel it each time the team take the pitch. It’s what makes Dejan such an enigma. When coming off the bench he not only scores, but provides a visible spark. An added burst of energy that permeates throughout the 11 on pitch, and kickstarts a second wind for the team. However, we haven't always seen that when he starts. Sure, he can still score, but it isn't always enough and he hardly has that some effect. We did see it though, when both he and Chicharito were put in the starting XI together. Two like minds connected, feeding off one another for the common goal of the whole. It was art, if not a bit sci-fi.
Chicharito wants to know what game you became a ✨ pic.twitter.com/rNKEUhPiQE— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) July 27, 2022
Of course, you can't force people to be something they aren't, and if players don't have that mentality in them, then you can't fake that funk. However, you can try your best to get it out of them. It’s clear the problem with this team isn't talent, or tactics. Which makes it all the more frustrating, all the more difficult to fix. Surely Head Coach Greg Vanney is saying all the right things and doing what needs to be done, but perhaps it might be wise to start at the mentality. Filling the Starting XI with players who not only understand what it takes to play in LA, but players who might be feeling themselves a bit extra this week.
Perhaps it’s the young midfielder who has had a stellar week in training, or the fringe forward who's not been given consistent minutes. For a team that's struggled to find itself throughout this season, and is now faced with the possibility of missing the postseason completely, what is there to lose in trying new things? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result, and sports is all about feeling good to play good. Perhaps we should be looking for more players like Dejan, those who know what they bring to squad, and are chomping at the bit to bring more of it, more often.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!