It has been an up-and-down year for the LA Galaxy. And that hit-and-miss trend looks to continue as the Galaxy take on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday minus a few regulars.
Through seven games the club has won three games and lost three, with a tie against Vancouver their only stale-mate of the season. But during that stretch, they’ve only scored eight goals – which puts them 18 out of 23 teams in the league.
To date, the only thing that has saved the Galaxy is a much-maligned defense, who have conceded 10 goals. Those 10 goals see the Galaxy in the middle of the pack in the league (14) with neither stat is much to write home about.
The Galaxy (3-3-1) have also allowed had trouble getting ahead of their opponents. They’re 2-0-0 in games they’ve scored first and they’re 1-3-0 in games they’ve conceded first. The one game they concede first and won was against Los Angeles Football Club – hardly the poster child for a reasonable comeback.
“We need to step it up,” Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told reporters after training on Thursday. “Against LAFC we were three-zero down and at home. At home, we should be stronger than away.
“I see every game as a final. You lose a game you lose a final. But it’s getting there. We’re working hard. Hopefully, we can get that win on Saturday.”
And the Galaxy have a tall task ahead of them when the Red Bulls (3-4-0) come to StubHub Center on Saturday night (7:30 PM, SpectrumSN, SpectrumDeportes).
New York are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena. A game in which Jesse Marsch’s team outshot the Fire 22-4, but couldn’t find the back of the net outside a goal from the ageless Bradley Wright-Phillips (he’s 33) who now has five goals on the season – just one behind league-leader Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez – and is on pace to match or break his record-setting 27 goals in a season.
And while the Red Bulls look to have a fairly stable set of players getting minutes – even offseason acquisition Kaku looks likely to make a repeat start in midfield – the Galaxy have to deal with more injuries and absences to key players.
Midfielder Jonathan dos Santos will not be available for the game this weekend after suffering a calf injury in pre-game warmups ahead of the loss to Atlant United. Jonathan dos Santos is expected to be ready for the Galaxy’s next game against Houston. Also missing will be Rolf Feltscher who suffered a torn pectoral muscle when he fell over a ball in training. He’s
Also missing from the lineup will be Rolf Feltscher. Feltscher, who has started and played every game this year, suffered a torn pectoral muscle when he fell over a ball in training. He’s expected to be out for the next couple of months leaving a gaping hole at right back that might have to be filled by Emrah Klimenta – that is unless Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid decides to drastically change formations.
Feltscher was one of only four players to start and play in every game for the full 90 minutes this year. Goalkeeper David Bingham, defender Jorgen Skjelvik, and midfielder Perry Kitchen were the other three.
To date, the Galaxy’s three Designated Players – who have all suffered injuries since the start of the season – have only played 785 minutes of an available 1,890 – or just 41.5%.
Add onto that a significant addition like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a change of formation (4-5-1-1 to a 4-4-2), and a rotating cast, and the Galaxy haven’t been anything approaching a model of stability.
“I’ll probably say we have a lot of work to do,” Galaxy captain Ashley Cole confessed. “It was difficult when we had players missing, then a new player coming in. We have to kind of still get to know each other.
“I think everyone got carried away with the 4-3 win against LA, like ‘This is it.’ As a player, you can never kind of think, ‘This is it.’ We got lucky on that day with two great goals.
“Now we’re focused on a big game Saturday,” he continued. “They’re a good team and we have to understand our own philosophy and how we want to play.”
The Galaxy will need to come out with more intensity as they’ve allowed four goals of their 10 in the first 30 minutes of games. And playing behind is never easy and really changes a game-plan that has been worked on throughout the week.
And Schmid will need to find a good plan to make up for the playmaking abilities of Jonatan dos Santos. Perhaps that means getting Giovani dos Santos the start in the number 10 position in order to link the midfield with Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara.
Kamara, who has only one goal on the season, needs to start finding the back of the net. And the partnership with Ibrahimovic needs to show some significant improvement if the Galaxy are going to get the most out of each player.
But from his perspective, Ibrahimovic doesn’t see that as the problem. He needs to see more from the entire team.
“It’s not about one or two players,” he said. “It’s a collective team, 11 players. You need to make adjustments, make the team work. When the defense works, the midfield works. When the midfield works the attackers work. It’s not about two players. If it was one to one players, we’d already win the World Cup. I need my 10 players.
“I need my 10 players.”