The LA Galaxy offense continues to struggle as they are held scoreless for the third straight game. Let’s get to the grades.
The LA Galaxy traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah in hopes to get back on track after losing their first match since the Major League Soccer restart just four days earlier.
All three designated players started together for the first time since the home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 7th. While it was promising to see Javier Hernandez, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Cristian Pavon back in their starting roles, the Galaxy failed to make the most of the situation and fell to Real Salt Lake by a score of 2-0.
There was much optimism that the Galaxy had started to find their rhythm and system after the their four game win streak when returning from the bubble in Orlando.
However, in their last three matches, the team is back to looking more like the uninspired bunch the had the slowest start in club history.
Let’s take a look at how the players fared on the night:
TOP OF THE CLASS
Sebastian Lletget seems to have fallen back to earth after stringing together several man of the match performances during the win streak. Sadly, even though he is not producing at the same level, he was still one of the Galaxy’s better players on the evening.
Lletget was the one of only three starters to register a shot. Lletget’s best opportunity opportunity came in the 15th minute where he had a clean look with a volley that was struck extremely well as it just barely missed the target.
Lletget continued to show the work rate that contributed to his resurgence, but he appears to be lacking chemistry with Dos Santos and Hernandez.
In a Galaxy season with its fair share of ups and downs, Perry Kitchen has been Mr. Consistent since the restart. He might not be the type of player who is going to have high highs, but he also hasn’t had any shocking lows in these matches. Kitchen is showing why he was the choice midfielder to retain his spot in the lineup as Dos Santos returned to his starting role.
Kitchen continued to provide consistent support to the center backs and was active in the midfield challenging the opposition and attempting to be the first piece in the transition to offense.
If the Galaxy offense is going to continue to struggle, Kitchen will need to continue his bulldog style of play as he did against Real Salt Lake by leading the team with tackles and physicality.
Rolf Feltcher looked to have lost his starting spot to Julian Araujo who has been maturing at a faster rate than expected. With Araujo earning a red card in the previous match, Feltcher proved why squad depth is so important to any team’s success.
Feltcher looked comfortable back in his starting role at right back providing support in the attack in addition to tracking back to defend. Feltcher was the only Galaxy player to register a shot on target, which only further highlights the Galaxy’s sad state of affairs on offense.
Cristian Pavon has also cooled down after showing most valuable player level during the Galaxy’s hot streak. While Pavon might not be firing on all cylinders, he is still finding a way to make contributions as best as he can.
Shots were few and far between for the Galaxy, but Pavon had a couple of good chances. One shot deflected off the goal post and another shot went wide as he cut into the box from the wing. These are the type of positions Pavon is familiar with putting himself in and hopefully, these chances will keep his confidence high as the final phase of the season approaches.
After coming on as a substitute in the last two games, Javier Hernandez earned his first start since his injury that ended his time at the MLS is Back tournament. Unfortunately, the Galaxy are still yet to earn three points when Hernandez steps on the field.
He was subbed off in the 80th minute and was visibly frustrated from his inability to leave his mark on the match. It appears that he is still not quite at his full potential as he did not register any shots or create any chances.
There are only ten matches left in this abbreviated season and I don’t know if that will be enough for Hernandez to get back to 90 minutes match fit and in goal scoring form.
If the Galaxy look to have any hope of working their way back into the playoff picture, they will need to find a way to get Hernandez on the score sheet. It was painfully evident that the pieces on the field for the Real Salt Lake match did not put Hernandez in a position to succeed and at some point Hernandez will need to show that he still has his scoring boots.
The Galaxy failed to convert their few chances in the first half and the longer the match went on, the more it looked like Real Salt Lake was going to walk away with all three points.
The moment that turned the match on its head came in the 64th minute when David Bingham came off of his line to contest Justin Meram on a breakaway and made the decision to go to ground where he upended Meram for an easy penalty call. The challenge additionally led to a yellow card for Bingham.
The angle in which Meram was moving would have required a world class strike to see a goal converted and the decision for Bingham to come out obviously did not work out for the Galaxy. Additionally, Bingham did not look close to playing the ball with the line he chose to attack the forward as he sprinted into the box.
Bingham continues to make questionable decisions from week to week and this particular decision was a morale killer that led a frustrated Galaxy team to lose their fighting spirit.
I have mentioned several times throughout my articles that depth plays an integral role in any team that hopes to have any success in this short season. A midweek game and a suspended Julian Araujo forced Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s hand to have some squad rotation and he elected to have Emil Cuello in a starting role.
Cuello looked out of place for much of his time on the field where he was unable to connect on passes and turned the ball over on multiple occasions.
As a player who has not seen the field much this season, Cuello had an opportunity to impress Schelotto and earn his trust in future matches. Cuello did not impress and was subbed off after only 57 minutes, even before Dos Santos and Hernandez who were recovering from injury.
Schelotto will still need to rely on squad rotation as the midweek games continue to pile up, but perhaps he will look to others like Efrain Alvarez or Cameron Dunbar before turning to Cuello again.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.