The Galaxy opened their 2020 MLS regular season on the road against the Houston Dynamo. We take a look at who contributed to their success and who was holding them back.

MLS is back! The LA Galaxy traveled to BBVA Stadium in Houston to kick off their 25th season on Major League Soccer’s opening weekend.

Last season, the Galaxy walked away from their Houston road trip in disappointment with a 4-2 loss. This year, the Galaxy drew the Dynamo 1-1.

With the draw, the Galaxy banked a valuable road point that was their first point in Houston since September 2017. Additionally, the draw could indicate growth for a team that only earned a draw three times in 2019.

While the Galaxy looked dangerous at several points in the match, they were also fortunate to not allow more than one goal. A draw is probably a fair result for a team that didn’t do well enough to win but probably didn’t deserve to lose.

Let’s take a look at who messed with Texas and who got caught bashing the trash can:

TOP OF THE CLASS

There goes that man again. Cristian Pavon picked up right where he left off in the preseason by scoring another beautiful golazo.

Once again, Pavon looked like the team’s Most Valuable Player leaving some to ask if it is too soon to begin the #MVPavon campaign (yes it is).

Speed, skill, and finishing ability were on display as Pavon wreaked havoc on the Houston defense.

Pavon’s chemistry with some of his teammates is still something that needs to be worked on, but there is plenty of time for that to develop as the 2020 season progresses.

We saw our first full 90 minutes from “The Samurai”, Emiliano Insúa, and he impressed with his play on both sides of the ball.

Insúa was a threat every time he made a run on the wing and showed the confidence to want to take defenders on and whip crosses into the box.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto mentioned the importance of a “defense first” mindset and Insúa looked like an absolute professional when dispossessing the opponent and comfort playing out of the back.

Insúa looks to be a great addition to this 2020 squad and I look forward to seeing his consistency at left-back.

It’s always difficult to determine if preseason performance will be indicative of regular-season MLS play. A common phrase on the Corner of the Galaxy podcast is, “It isn’t until it is.”

Much like Cristian Pavon, Nick Depuy picked up where he left off. Depuy looked like a solid MLS starting defender.

Being mentioned in the same sentence as the Galaxy’s star Argentine designated player isn’t bad for a former USL product starting in his first Major League Soccer match.

Depuy put himself in good positions throughout the game and looked comfortable on the ball. On one occasion, we saw him dribble himself out of a difficult situation.

With Daniel Steres on the bench recovering from injury, Depuy did enough to give Schelotto some hesitation before rushing Steres back into the starting lineup.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

By this point, I think you might be picking up on a theme: game one mimicked the performances from the preseason.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was yet again unable to get on the scoresheet and looked visibly frustrated throughout the game.

Overall, Houston needs to be credited for their game plan which saw them clog the center of the field in order to prevent Chicharito from receiving service.

It wasn’t all bad from Hernandez as his runs in the final third opened up space for Pavon to create opportunities.

Leading up to the goal, Hernandez’s feints kept the defense honest allowing Pavon to run into space in the box and slot it home.

The LA Galaxy will benefit from Hernandez creating space and his ability to track back defensively, but Chicharito was not brought in to contribute defensively and be the league’s most expensive decoy.

The two-star rating comes more from the burden of expectation for Chicharito. His first goal will surely release the pressure that has been building over the past month.

It’s a game of inches. The Galaxy opened the match with frenetic energy which saw an Aleksandar Katai header hit the post within the first 70 seconds.

If that header goes in, we may be looking at a very different game result and rating for Katai. You can see the potential from him, but it doesn’t look like he’s hit his form, or fitness, just yet.

The main disappointment from Katai is that he was only able to go 58-minutes before being subbed off for Joe Corona.

Katai was brought in to be a full-time starter on the wing and his inability to go for a full 90 minutes is concerning.

Is this a fitness issue or is it a question of trust from GBS after earning a yellow card? Either way, Katai leaves room for improvement before the home opener.

Last week, it looked as if Sacha Kljestan was about to steal a starting spot from a crowded midfield.

This week, Kljestan’s play left a lot to be desired. He looked uncomfortable at moments and couldn’t seem to get a rhythm going with his teammates.

Jonathan Dos Santos will look to be back in the lineup for the home opener on March 7th and while it looks like dos Santos would naturally replace Perry Kitchen as a one-for-one replacement, Schelotto may look to pair JDS with Sebastian Lletget and Joe Corona, who looked more dangerous in Houston.

Unfortunately, that may leave Kljestan as the odd man out. But there is still a spot for him on this team as an injury replacement and to provide depth coming off the bench.

SEE ME AFTER CLASS

The Houston Dynamo had 15 total shots, but only a measly two shots were on target. David Bingham wasn’t asked to do much in this match, but he fell short when it mattered most.

It does need to be noted, that Bingham provided an excellent assist to Cristian Pavon on a goalkeeper clearance that caught Pavon in stride and allowed him to make some magic happen.

Aside from that, Bingham was caught out of position on Houston’s lone goal and made it too easy for Mauro Manotas to equalize.

Bingham’s decision-making has been a concern in the past and while the defense needs to step up, Bingham needs to put more trust in his defenders and not leave his goal exposed when his team has the lead.

Is a one-star rating harsh? Sure! But Bingham allowed the only goal in a draw on the road against a team that was not hitting the target.

Bingham may win the Galaxy some games this season, but this past Saturday in Houston, he’s the main culprit in seeing two dropped points.

HALL MONITOR

Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.

PlayerPositionPlayer RatingAverage Rating
Cristian PavonF44
Emiliano InsuaD44
Rolf FeltscherD33
Nick DepuyD33
Joe CoronaM33
Perry KitchenM33
Giancarlo GonzalezD22
Sebastian LletgetM22
Sacha KljestanM22
Aleksandar KataiF22
Javier HernandezF22
David BinghamGK11
Emil CuelloMIncompleteN/A

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