It’s been a long and difficult road for the LA Galaxy in 2018. And there are still 24 games remaining in the season.
“I think we didn’t expect this kind of season,” Galaxy midfielder Romain Alessandrini told CoG after training on Tuesday. “There have been a lot of struggles but we have to be positive.”
But staying positive is starting to be a chore.
The Galaxy (3-6-1) sit in ninth place in the Western Conference and 17th in the overall Major League Soccer table. In their last seven games, they have just two wins, have lost four games in-a-row, and have been outscored 10 to 17.
But when they face off against the Montreal Impact (3-8-0) on Monday (Noon, PT; SpectrumSN, Spectrum Deportes) they’ll be hoping that all that stumbling through the first part of the season will start to pay off. And that some of the bounces that haven’t gone their way, turnaround.
“We need to have more confidence and play with confidence,” Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said. “We need a little bit more luck than normal. I think the last game we were unlucky. We hit two posts. We don’t have the flow of the game. We need to have the positive luck on our side, and hopefully, it can change a little bit”
Much like the Galaxy, the Impact are a struggling side that has failed to find any semblance of form. Winners of just one game in their last seven, and having been outscored 9 to 21 in that stretch, they are tumbling towards the bottom of their conference with no end in sight.
And with both the league’s worst goal differential (-12) and the worst goals against (-12) — the only team in MLS to have a double-digit GD — the Impact are ripe for the picking.
They’re also coming off a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union at home — a Union team that got its first road win of the year. The game saw two red cards and the Impact’s Daniel Lovitz sent off for Denial of a Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO). He’ll be unavailable for this game.
It’s likely the Galaxy will travel to Montreal — a more than five-hour flight — without Giovani dos Santos. He didn’t train with the club this week, outside of a brief stint on Saturday, and he continues to return from a hamstring issue that has raised questions about his participation in the World Cup with Mexico.
Jonathan dos Santos, however, has trained with the club all week after picking up a “charlie horse” in a sliding tackle early in the second half of the Galaxy’s loss to FC Dallas last week. He’s expected to play.
The Galaxy will also be without captain, Ashley Cole (yellow card accumulation) and Rolf Feltscher (Torn Pectoral). Likely forcing Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid into some creative replacements.
But perhaps this will give Schmid the chance to change things up in hopes of finding some defensive balance from the leagues fifth worst defense. Tomas Hilliard-Arce could be an option. He’s started and played in just one game this season – a 0-0 draw with Vancouver. And Dave Romney could switch sides to play the left-back role.
Jonathan dos Santos and Perry Kitchen will probably patrol the midfield again with Alessandrini and Sebastian Lletget in support on the wings.
Topping out the formation could be Ola Kamara and Ibrahimovic, although Schmid has certainly shuffled the formation at the top enough to not be able to predict where Kamara might end up.
But that hasn’t stopped the Norwegian international from scoring in three consecutive games. The lone bright spot in an otherwise muddy outlook.
“It’s tough for us to lose that many games,” Kamara said after training. “But now I think the group has come together. We’ve talked about it … we all are on the same page and how we’re going to move forward. Then hopefully we will see results from that.”
But the player and coaches are not immune from the negative feelings that currently encompass the team. With many of their detractors being vocal about where the Galaxy currently sit.
“Patience is important,” Schmid said acknowledging the naysayers. “I know MLS came out with a thing yesterday and I think we’ve had the second-toughest schedule in the league so far. Which you sort of knew.
“And the naysayers are correct in saying our defending right now isn’t good enough,” he continued. “But it will be there.
“The objective at the end of the day is to make the playoffs.”
If the Galaxy are going to start that push for the playoffs, they’ll need to do it by getting points against the Impact. And as the World Cup looms larger on the horizon for the dos Santos brothers, this is one of the Galaxy’s final chances to see if they can come together before the break. And with a Friday night game back at StubHub, there’s a chance to pick up a bunch of points very quickly.
The Galaxy will use one of their limited charter flights to return back to Los Angeles after the game.
While the seat isn’t quite hot on Schmid yet, a fifth straight loss could really throw gasoline on the fire. That’s not a road the organization wants to go down again, and it could certainly signal another re-build.
But with three points in Canada, the Galaxy can start setting their sights on teams in front of them, rather than worry about the impending “thump” that comes from landing at the bottom of the conference again.
A sound Galaxy fans remember all too well.
Larry Morgan contributed to this report