Photo Courtesy of LA Galaxy

Grading the Galaxy: Draw vs Houston

The LA Galaxy salvage a point in the final match of the MLS is Back tournament. Although the team will not be advancing to the next round, we’ll let you know who made the most of their final moments in Florida.

Heading into the final Group F match against the Houston Dynamo, the LA Galaxy knew exactly what they needed to do in order to advance to the knockout round of the MLS is Back tournament, earn three points and a three goal lead.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy walked away with neither as they were eliminated from the competition with a 1-1 draw against the Dynamo.

What they were able to accomplish was earning a much needed regular season point. While they avoid a four game losing streak, the Galaxy still remain without a victory in the 2020 season.

The Galaxy spent the majority of the match dominating the stat sheet in categories like possession, shots, crosses, and corners, yet somehow found themselves unable to dominate the most important category, the final scoreline.

There was plenty of room for improvement after an uninspired second match, so let’s take a look at how the players fared on the night:


At this point, it feels like player grades for Cristian Pavon can be copy and pasted from week to week. He has been the most consistent LA Galaxy player in this tournament and continues to be the team’s best attacking option.

While Pavon has been the most consistent performer in terms of offensive production, he also has shown that he is also very susceptible to losing the ball quite often. This is to be expected from the Galaxy’s sole designated player in the last two matches as other options on the field may leave Pavon feeling like he needs to create too much on his own.

Pavon’s penalty kick gave him his second goal of the tournament, and third goal of the season making him the club’s goal and assist leader.

While there still remains room for improvement, Pavon is head and shoulders above his on-field peers.

After a rough defensive matchup in the last game, Dan Steres showed why he was given the captain’s armband with his veteran presence in the back.

Outside of a free kick goal, which was out of his control, Steres did well to hold the back line together and allowed his fellow center back, Nick Depuy, the freedom to push forward in select situations.

During this tournament, Steres has done well to solidify his spot in the back line if he can avoid injury and maintain the same level of consistency he’s had in previous seasons.

Speaking of center backs, Nick Depuy saw his first start of the competition, replacing Giancarlo Gonzalez who had back to back questionable performances.

Depuy may not have looked as steady as Steres in the center back role, but what he brought to the table was his involvement in connecting the defense to the midfield and forwards.

While the level of intensity that Depuy was playing was postive, the other side of the coin was that he found himself in positions to give up careless fouls that could have put him in danger of finding himself on the discipline record.

Overall, Depuy looks to be a more natural fit with Steres in the middle of defense and has made his case with Guillermo Barros Schelotto to become a regular starter.

Sebastian Lletget continued to capitalize on his more attacking role in this match, picking up on the positives that he had in the previous match. He maintains the ability to be one of the Galaxy’s best passers of the ball.

While Lletget had a decent performance on the evening, he still remains unable to be a threat in front of the goal. On a team where goals are hard to come across, it becomes more and more difficult to accept Lletget as as the best option at CAM moving forward.

The inability to finish was particularly on display in injury time as he was fed a ball inside of the 18 yard box and not only failed to put a shot on target, but forced the ball nearly outside of the box on it’s way past the end line. The shot had more of the characteristics of a pass than it did a shot on goal.

The best attacking midfielders in this league are able to make opposing teams pay with their distribution in addition to scoring goals and Lletget simply isn’t in that conversation.

This frustration comes from understanding that Lletget is capable of doing better. Being an average player in a crowd of under-performers can only be acceptable for so long.


If you thought Javier Hernandez had big shoes to fill after the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, even with his pedigree, imagine now being 22 year old Ethan Zubak forced into the role of lone striker with your team needing three goals to advance.

Zubak played 90+ minutes in his first time on the field in the Galaxy’s first five games and managed to put himself in a position to have an impact on the game. Even though he tallied four shots on the night, second only to Pavon, the shots never caused any problems for Houston.

The best opportunity of the night for Zubak came in the final moment of the match as the Galaxy broke away on a counter attack leaving Pavon and Zubak with a two versus one opportunity to steal all three points. Pavon’s pass failed to connect with Zubak who’s tired legs seem to get the best of him.

While Zubak is young, he’s no longer a teenage phenom waiting to break through. It would be fair to hold him to some expectations if there is any chance to see him get any first team minutes of importance. There were some flashes of skill, but in the end Zubak just didn’t look like he was ready for the bright lights.

Emiliano Insua has been one of the more consistent players during his time on the field with the LA Galaxy this season. Not many highs, not many lows, you just know what you’re getting with Insua.

That being said, this match saw Insua look just a bit off. Many of his crosses were unable to find the target and he seem to find himself forcing these crosses when there was open space to be taken. Playing the cross may be a tactical decision from the coaching staff, but Insua needs to be sharper to make more quality crosses as opposed to increasing his volume.

It is possible that the lack of sharpness could be attributed to Schelotto opting not to use a substitute on either of his outside defenders until the final 13 minutes of the tournament. Additionally, Rolf Feltscher was not subbed off while he seemed to have similar struggles to Insua.

David Bingham has been one of the most polarizing players this season in terms of player grades. There is one segment of the population who watches LA Galaxy games and do not feel that Bingham is a quality goalkeeper. There is another segment of the population who feels that Bingham is unfairly crucified for the sins of his defense.

This match against Houston did very little to help the case of the latter. Bingham had three saves on the night from four Houston shots on target, but the majority of those saves were point blank or shot directly at the goalkeeper.

Bingham’s biggest blunder on the night came on a 17th minute free kick from Darwin Quintero which caught Bingham so flat footed that it caused the FS1 broadcasting team to question if the ball was deflected. The ball was not deflected and Bingham was left looking foolish as he anticipated a change of direction on the opposite side his own wall.

Upon further review of the goals conceded during this tournament, Bingham looks like a goalkeeper who is more liable to make a mistake than to make a spectacular save that will keep the Galaxy in a close game.

Without being a broken record about Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s shortcomings about fully utilizing his substitutions, I simply want to provide a short bit of data:

Of the 24 teams involved in the MLS is Back tournament, only one team failed to utilize ten or more substitutions during the group stage. That one team? The Schelotto managed LA Galaxy with nine substitutions, only sixty percent of the the allotted amount.

This appears to highlight Schelotto’s inability to adapt his in-game management tactics. Additionally, this also shines a light on the lack of depth of the team, to which Schelotto is partially responsible with assisting in player recruitment.

The team looked stagnant and tired in its final match and yet still had an opportunity to walk away with their first win of the season. As the Galaxy travel back to Los Angeles, they are left wondering what could have gone differently.

It is fair to point out that Schelotto was without two of his three designated players for the majority of the tournament, but I think it is safe to say that the player selection, tactics, and lineups failed to deliver when the manager was called upon to manage.


Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.

PlayerPositionTotal StarsSeason Average
Cristian PavonM803.64
Sebastian LletgetM663.14
Emiliano InsuaD632.86
Perry KitchenM532.65
Julian AraujoD523.06
Daniel SteresD522.60
David BinghamGK462.56
Nick DePuyD442.75
Rolf FeltscherD412.56
Efrain AlvarezM402.67
Joe CoronaM392.60
Jonathan dos SantosM332.54
Javier HernandezF272.25
Sacha KljestanM262.60
Yony GonzalezM232.56
Ethan ZubakF232.09
Giancarlo GonzalezD202.22
Emil CuelloM132.17
Jonathan KlinsmannGK112.75
Carlos HarveyM102.50
Diedie TraoreD72.33
Gordon WildF63.00
Cameron DunbarF44.00
Aleksandar KataiM42.00
Kai KoreniukMN/AN/A