The LA Galaxy had their home opener spoiled as they were held scoreless against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps. We’ll take a look at what went wrong and if there were any positives.
All eyes were on the LA Galaxy’s newest superstar signing, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, as an over-capacity sellout crowd of 26,382 people filed into Dignity Health Sports Park to witness the Galaxy kick off their 25th season.
The Galaxy came into the evening boasting a 10-5-2 all-time record in home openers (since the construction of Dignity Health Sports Park) and expectations were high as several oddsmakers had the Galaxy as heavy favorites against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The match did not go according to the script for the Galaxy faithful in attendance as they saw the team manage only one shot on target while being held scoreless on the night.
To add insult to injury, the Galaxy conceded a goal and went down a man in a span of two minutes and were never able to recover.
This game definitely raised some tactical and talent concerns in this young season.
Let’s take a look at how the players fared on the night:
TOP OF THE CLASS
Much like the season opener at Houston, David Bingham was asked to stop a limited number of shots on target. Vancouver took 12 shots, but only managed four on target.
In contrast to the game in Houston, Bingham stepped up and came up big when he was called upon.
Vancouver’s lone goal came at the expense of a defensive lapse which saw Tosaint Ricketts open in the box to put a well placed shot in the bottom corner of the net. Bingham may also have had his view blocked by Giancarlo Gonzalez on the play.
The other big moment for Bingham came in the 88th-minute when Vancouver’s big offseason acquisition, Lucas Cavallini, stepped up to make an attempt from the penalty spot.
Bingham stayed patient in the center of goal and did not reveal a preferred side, forcing Cavallini to kick the ball down the center where it was deflected back into open play.
While the penalty may have been questionable, Bingham’s performance was not, as he was one of the few bright spots on the night.
Rolf Feltscher continues to look like an improved player this season providing several successful passes and key recoveries on the night.
Feltscher was confident on the wing and continues to make an impact in his involvement in the offensive third of the field.
The critique of this involvement is that none of his open play crosses connected with his teammates. The question remains if this is a Feltscher issue or a symptom of the Guillermo Barros Schelotto system. It is also a possibility that it is a little bit of both.
When a defender who had zero successful open-play crosses during a match warrants a top player rating, it speaks volumes to the rest of the team’s performance.
Much like Feltscher, Emiliano Insua looks comfortable in his place as starting left-back.
A pattern developing is that the defenders on the wing are more part of the offense than playing a pivotal role in the defense. Insua only made one successful tackle but contributed to the game with his passing and his chance creation (he led all Galaxy players with three chances created).
If Insua can continue to put in consistent performances on the wing, then the rest of the team will build on this consistency and eventually develop some chemistry to put the final pieces together on offense.
Another game and another under-60-minute performance from the Galaxy’s Serbian winger.
Aleksandar Katai was once again unable to have a positive impact on the game. He continues to look uncomfortable on the field and doesn’t seem to have the chemistry with his fellow forwards, despite the fact he led the team in shots on Saturday night – five shots, with zero shots on target.
But the most disheartening aspect of Katai’s involvement is that if he is unable to go 90 minutes consistently, the Galaxy lack the depth at the forward & outside midfield to make up for it.
There was a lot of expectation placed on Katai as the Romain Alessandrini replacement and so far, he hasn’t lived up to the billing.
The positive from Cristian Pavon was that he provided the LA Galaxy’s only shot on target.
The talent is definitely there but on the night Pavon didn’t do as well to involve others in the play. Many of his crosses were unsuccessful and he found himself dispossessed on several occasions.
The Galaxy’s success will rely heavily on the success of Pavon and when he isn’t having a MVP caliber night, then the team will most likely struggle.
That is a lot pressure to put on the 24-year-old Argentine, but with his star on the rise and an estimated record transfer value, this is the reality for Pavon.
Dignity Health Sports Park was filled beyond capacity for the home opener for first time in years, and the majority of the crowd was there to see one person, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
Hernandez has had a reputation as a “goal poacher” and this is a term that is often said with a negative tone as it places the expectation on others to create. In my opinion, being a “goal poacher” still requires some skill and you want a deadly finisher in front of the net.
Hernandez had an extremely quiet night which saw him receive limited touches (10 in the first half and 30 overall) and he failed to create with the chances he was given. This gave those who dubbed him “only a goal poacher” plenty of credence.
It seems like there is unlimited debate about whether Chicharito is to blame for his lack of production or if the rest of the team’s responsibility to provide him with opportunities.
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, we can all agree that neither party is delivering on their end of the bargain.
The team as a whole will need to improve in all areas of the field or Hernandez will continue to land in the bottom half of the player ratings.
This is probably the ranking that I feel most uncomfortable giving this week as Jonathan dos Santos was only able to play 45 minutes this weekend, exiting at the half with left quad tightness.
Dos Santos was clearly still harboring some sensitivity to his groin injury and was not the midfield general that we have become accustomed to seeing.
It is hard for me to determine if this was a misstep on Schelotto’s end for starting a player who wasn’t fully fit or if this is on Dos Santos for biting off more than he can chew.
I tend to lean towards more of this falling on GBS, but this was clearly not a stellar performance from the Galaxy captain.
SENT TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE
Immediately after conceding a demoralizing goal, Joe Corona found himself being sent off after receiving a second yellow card.
It was a bit harsh for Corona to be sent off for the second tackle, but by the letter of the law, it was a warranted yellow card offense.
The Galaxy were in for an uphill climb after the Vancouver goal and the Corona red card essentially cemented the loss.
Prior to being sent off, Corona was unable to get much going in the midfield after returning there as a starter.
To be fair, we have yet to see Corona on the field with dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget this season, which is when Corona has looked best.
NAME ON THE BOARD
The plan each week was to provide a place to share takeaways from the weekly player performances.
However, this week, on several occasions, the player ratings raised questions about what was being asked of them from the manager, Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
For that reason, we are putting Schelotto on the board to be critiqued.
It is still very early in the season, but we have seen a full season from Schelotto and it does not seem like his tactics have changed in a post-Zlatan world.
It also appears that the game plan continues to be to send numbers on the wing and whip crosses into the box. This was a tactic that was unsuccessful in Houston and continued to be unsuccessful in the home opener.
Schelotto has been known for his 4-3-3 system, but the way this team is playing is more like a 4-5-1 with a lone striker as the other forwards are failing to be involved in the attack.
Additionally, squad choice seems to be an issue.
Schelotto included an unfit Jonathan Dos Santos and failed to include Lletget in the starting lineup.
Lletget is probably the best player on the roster to fill in the CAM position, regardless of your opinions of his comments on BSI: The Podcast.
The seat will start to get warm for GBS if the he keeps rolling out the same tactics unsuccessfully each week.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.