Steve Carrillo

LA Galaxy Need to Find “Defensive Drive” in the Final Preseason Game

Carson, CA. – The LA Galaxy appear to be far from a finished product as the five-time MLS Cup champions continue preparations for their regular-season opener against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, March 4 at StubHub Center.

They are 2-3 in the preseason and have dropped their last two matches, including a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday in Irvine. They followed that in a closed-door scrimmage on Wednesday with a 2-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, today’s opponent in their preseason finale at 7 p.m. at StubHub Center. The game will be streamed live on

But it may not be all doom and gloom for the Galaxy. Head coach Sigi Schmid and his staff appear to have found a legitimate scoring threat in Ola Kamara, whom they acquired in an off-season trade with the Columbus Crew, and midfielder Sebastian Lletget is healthy after missing most of last season with a foot injury.

“I think our offense is a little bit ahead of our defense,” Schmid said.

No kidding. The defense – which allowed 67 goals last season, fewer than only the 70 allowed by expansion franchise Minnesota United – continues to be a sore spot despite the addition of several new players in the back, including goalkeeper David Bingham and European imports Rolf Feltscher and Jorgen Skjelvik.

Much of the inconsistency in that half of the field could be traced to the influx of new talent and resulting suspect communication, but Schmid doesn’t really want to use those excuses.

But it’s hard to resist the temptation to do so.

“We’ve played different combinations in the back,” he said. “I think that plays a role in it, them understanding each other and knowing how they’re going to work together. That will come. That will come this week as we move forward and make our decisions.

“Sometimes there’s been mistakes in terms of just coughing up the ball. It’s just alertness and being aware. We have to make sure that improves.”

Perry Kitchen, who is expected to help anchor the midfield and joined the Galaxy during the off-season after playing the last two years in Europe (with Scotland’s Heart of Midlothian and Danish Superliga side Randers FC), said he has been impressed with the Galaxy despite the defensive struggles.

Those are only temporary, he said.

“Obviously we had a bit of a hiccup when we played San Jose,” he said. “Defensively we weren’t as good as we needed to be. But that’s going to come, and it has to come next week. Just that sharpness, that defensive drive that we need.

“I think it just comes down to us being tighter and more aware in the defensive half. It’s all work that we’ve done in our careers … just doing the dirty work.

“I think if we do that we’ll be a very good team.”

The Whitecaps, who tied first-year side LAFC 4-4 last Sunday, feature two familiar faces in defender Sean Franklin and goalkeeper Brian Rowe. Franklin was MLS Rookie of the Year with the Galaxy in 2008 and played for Los Angeles from 2008-2013 before moving on to D.C. United. He then joined Vancouver via free agency during the off-season.

Rowe was with the Galaxy from 2012-2017 but was traded to Vancouver for a second-round pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft. That selection was used on Stanford midfielder Drew Skundrich.

The Galaxy, with the exception of midfielder Bradford Jamieson (out indefinitely with a concussion), are healthy and ready to go Saturday. Jonathan Dos Santos was the lone player held out of training Friday because of an unspecified ailment, but he should be available to play against the Whitecaps.