The LA Galaxy are in a rut. Winless in four games, missing a handful of starters, and worse yet: struggling to find a lineup that works with the players they have. LA sits at the very bottom of the Western Conference — and although that’s largely due to having played the fewest games, it still doesn’t feel good.
The two games this week are an opportunity. The Galaxy are finally back at home, with two opponents teed up that should be manageable. First is the struggling FC Dallas. After a strong start to the season that included a 4–1 routing of Houston (albeit aided by a red card), Dallas haven’t won in five games.
After a strong start to the season that included a 4–1 routing of Houston (albeit aided by a red card), Dallas haven’t won in five games.
Their game against Chivas USA on Saturday was emblematic of their problems: despite dominating possession (70% in the first 20’!) Dallas struggled to create chances. And the one goal they did allow was a defensive breakdown of the sort Galaxy fans are all-too-familiar with. Dallas fans are in agreement — their team has serious leadership issues. If there’s any club the Galaxy can take three points from, it’s this one.
But exploiting Dallas’s weakness will first require finding a formation that works. Bruce Arena experimented with moving Robbie Keane back to the midfield against Houston, and it flopped. Keane wound up too far back, far too often. Keeping Keane away from the goal is usually an opposing team’s biggest challenge. On Saturday, Keane took care of that himself.
Donovan and Gonzalez are on World Cup duty; Dunivant and Sarvas are injured — all of which leaves Bruce Arena in the unenviable position of fielding an unproven team. Who gets the starting nod against Dallas? Hidden under Saturday’s disappointments are some answers.
Robbie Rogers put in 30 minutes that went a long way toward proving himself as an option for the starting lineup. He managed 75% successful passes and made more of an impact than either Gyasi Zardes or Baggio Husidic. And 19-year-old Raul Mendiola was the high point of the night, taking shots and charging recklessly at defenders. I don’t see him starting – not yet – but with so little energy in LA’s attack, Mendiola’s bound to be a recurring sub.
And 19-year-old Raul Mendiola was the high point of the night, taking shots and charging recklessly at defenders.
It’d be just like Bruce Arena to stick with a bad lineup for an extra week. But let’s assume (and hope) he doesn’t. Here’s what the Galaxy could look like come kick-off: