2018 LA Galaxy by the Numbers – Game 9: Projecting Mediocrity

Welcome back to our almost weekly look at the LA Galaxy and a focused look at some of the charts we keep comparing the club to its previous seasons.

Through nine games and the most recent loss to the Houston Dynamo, the Galaxy have 10 points with a record of 3-5-1. They’ve scored 12 goals and allowed 16 on the year which hands them a minus-4 goal differential.

And while the eye test will tell you this 2018 team is much more talented than last years team, the results are eerily similar. And that’s not a good sign for the Galaxy.

The Galaxy’s 2017 record was 2-5-2 through nine games giving them eight points. They scored 10 goals and allowed 15 for a minus-five goal differential.

The biggest issue with the 2018 club this season is their inability to keep the ball out of the back of their own net. The Galaxy have allowed 16 goals on the year and are on pace to allow over 60 goals this season (1.77 per game).

To put that into perspective, only two previous seasons have allowed more than 60 goals with both seasons being among the teams worst years. In 2008 the Galaxy conceded 62 times and in 2017 they conceded 67 goals.

Outside of those two seasons, no Galaxy team has ever allowed more than 50 goals, with the team average hovering just shy of 40 total goals conceded per season.

The Galaxy rank 19th out of 23 teams in the league for goals allowed and best only the Vancouver Whitecaps (18 GA), Real Salt Lake (19 GA), and the Montreal Impact (23 GA). The San Jose Earthquakes are tied with the Galaxy (16 GA).

If we then turn our attention toward the offensive end of field the Galaxy have scored 12 goals this season. This ranks them 14th in the league overall in terms of their offense.

If we project out their current goal scoring through 34 games (1.33 per game), the Galaxy will score just over 45 goals this season (45.33). That would put them on par with the 2017 team who scored 45 goals and would slide them in slightly under the team’s overall average of 48.6 goals scored per season.

As both projections show, the Galaxy are in some trouble. Without significant improvements on both sides of the ball, the results seem to be pointing toward a slightly better result than last years disaster.

However, there does seem to be some slight bit of hope when comparing teams across the years.

With 10 points on the season, the Galaxy are 3.5 points below their all-time average through nine games (13.522). And only six previous seasons have been worse through nine games (’97, ’99, ’03, ’06, ’07, ’17).

That means there are 14 teams with a better record through nine games and two teams that are tied through this point in the season. And both of the teams the Galaxy are tied with, 2009 and 2012 teams, ended up in the MLS Cup.

2009 is of particular interest. With the Galaxy have their worst season in franchise history at the time, the 2008 season saw Bruce Arena takeover the team in the final stages of the season. In 2009, Arena was able to construct a team that surprised the league by getting all the way to the final where they lost to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks. But that 2009 had a slow start, and we could be seeing the same thing from this 2018 team. It could be a slow start after a major re-build in the offseason.

Also worth mentioning, the 2012 team that eventually repeated as MLS Cup Champions, saw a slow start as well – let’s call in an MLS Cup hangover. But the club made it to the playoffs thanks to a strong second half of the season and beat the Houston Dynamo at StubHub for the second year in-a-row.

When you look at the chart showing all the Galaxy’s seasons, with the MLS Cup-winning lines in bold, you start to get a sense of what this 2018 team might have to do to get themselves back into contention. But you can also see how long the 2012 team languished to start the season. Until a meteoric finish put them back on the path to a cup.

Finally, to put 2018 into perspective, we’ll take a look at the strength of opponent the Galaxy have faced so far this season.

Each team’s position is changed weekly so that an evolving picture of the how difficult the teams have been for the Galaxy. Each number represents the table position of that team after play has concluded.

For example, the Galaxy played and lost to the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo sit in 12 of 23 teams in the league right now. Thus, they are given a 12 in their column. Next week, that position could go up or down, and that will affect the overall average.

The Galaxy’s opponents average a table position of 7.7 through the nine games the Galaxy have played. They’ve beaten teams with an average table position of 12 and lost to teams with an average table position of 4.8.

At it’s most basic, this chart is trying to figure out who the Galaxy should beat and who they should lose to. So when the Galaxy face off against FC Dallas, a team that sits at 10 of 23 teams in points, we can determine that the Galaxy might have a shot at getting a point. The club sits outside the average table position of the losses (4.8). But also below the Galaxy’s average table position for wins over an opponent (12).

With only one draw on the season, against the Vancouver Whitecaps (Ranked 9th in the Supporters Shield), a draw seems a likely scenario. But when you see that the Galaxy just lost to the 12th ranked team in the Dynamo, it’s clear the chart does a poor job of predicting the future.

That does it for this week’s charts. There isn’t a ton of good news to be found. And like always, we’ll provide our additional charts below in case you want to figure out a new way to compare this Galaxy squad.

For now, the numbers and trends all seem to point to another disappointing season. But remember the bright side – the 2009 and 2012 seasons. Especially with the 2009 squad coming off such a similar previous season and a coaching change.

Charts & Graphs