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Galaxy in need of all-around improvements to contend in West


The shine of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s LA Galaxy debut wore off fast Sunday night.

Although the audible gasps still rung throughout StubHub Center when the Swedish superstar entered the field and got on the ball, his presence on the field wasn’t enough to cover up a poor showing by Sigi Schmid’s side in a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

Ibrahimovic was able to make fans forget about the club’s defensive deficiencies a week ago by providing two goals off the bench in one of the most talked about matches in Major League Soccer history.

Despite adding new faces to the back four to reinforce the positions around Ashley Cole, the Galaxy still showed lapses in key moments against Sporting KC.

On the first goal scored by Daniel Salloi, goalkeeper David Bingham was caught out of position and the defenders failed to cover space on the left side of the box after a corner that allowed Salloi to burst in and score.

Johnny Russell’s second strike was a piece of individual brilliance mixed with some poor closing by the Galaxy defenders on the right side of the penalty area, as the Scottish midfielder skirted through to beat Bingham.

Although they sit third in the West with seven points, the Galaxy have a negative goal difference. The good news, if you can call it that, is that five of the top six teams in the West have a negative goal differential through six weeks.

While there have been positives shown early in the 2018 campaign from the Galaxy, the negatives have outweighed them and are catching more attention.

The thought surrounding the Galaxy is their offense would keep them in games while the defense works things out. And while it’s a novel concept with Ibrahimovic, Romain Alessandrini, Ashley Cole, Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos in the squad, it hasn’t come to fruition yet.

Once the whole squad is healthy and match fit for 90 minutes, Schmid is going to have decisions to make. Playing a 3-5-2 might be the best option, and the Galaxy produced arguably their best defensive performance in the formation against Vancouver, earning a 0-0 draw at BC Place. In that game, Perry Kitchen and Servando Carrasco shut down the midfield channels, while Rolf Feltscher and Dave Romney played well as wingbacks.

In this formation with a fully-stocked cabinet of superstars, Kitchen and Jonathan dos Santos would hold the center of midfield with Ibrahimovic and Kamara up top and one or both of Alessandrini and Giovani dos Santos added in midfield. The problem with that is one of the attackers could be left out in favor of a more defensive approach.

A variation of the 4-4-2 could be used to suit Ibrahimovic and Kamara, with Alessandrini and Giovani dos Santos starting on the wings and then moving centrally to work together in a nice interchange with the two forwards. However, that still leaves the Galaxy exposed on the counter, with Kitchen being the last line of defense before the opponent reaches the back four.

Schmid is no stranger to forcing his lineup to be flexible, as he dealt with plenty of big names in Seattle, but he never dealt with the magnitude of this many stars at once, which could lead to more rotation depending on the opponent and location of the contest.

The Galaxy might have to settle for trial by fire in the national spotlight for the rest of April, as high-profile clashes with the Chicago Fire, Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls await before a May schedule that allows them to work on things out of the national focus.

The five-time champions don’t have to be a finished product next week, because, let’s be honest, no one in MLS is until mid-summer, but whether Schmid is willing to play around tactically with his team in order to find results over the next few weeks will go a long way in how much chemistry the star-laden team develops ahead of the months that really matter in MLS.


  1. If they want to compete for cups they need a defense, but the grander arguments about whether they are even competitive strike me as blinkered and myopic. LAG has the lowest GA of any team above the red line right now, including the KC team that just beat them. They do have a negative GD but so does every team except KC above the red line.

    Maybe it’s just, right now KC is class of the conference? And things may change in the summer.

  2. Defensively we’re in shambles, and in attack we aren’t moving the ball quickly enough. We pressed really well for 45 minutes against SKC, then changed up at half-time. Never liked Sigi for this job, and my initial reactions are being proven correct.

  3. Even Ashley Cole looks pedestrian. Their CBs are horrible, their keeper is below average. Their right-back has no business in MLS. This is not the Galaxy I used to know.

  4. They need 2 more decent defenders for the back line and then they should be okay. Hopefully they can pick up a couple during the summer transfer window . If they do that and integrate all their new players, the second half of the season they should be a top team.


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