Since the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the LA Galaxy’s attack has been one of the biggest talking points in MLS. On Saturday, that attack experienced a down game.
In a highly-anticipated battle of attacking heavyweights, the Galaxy were shut out by Atlanta United in a 2-0 defeat. It was the third time this season the Galaxy were shut out as part of an inconsistent start to the 2018 campaign.
“It was a huge disappointment,” Ola Kamara said of the match. “We had a really good training week and I think we were up for it in the game, but we didn’t do a good enough job this time.“
“It’s not clicking, because the rest of the service isn’t quite there,” head coach Sigi Schmid added. “We haven’t been able to step on the field and have all ten players have a good game at the same time.”
Going by the numbers, its easy to see how the Galaxy attack floundered on Saturday. They were outshot, 19-7, by Atlanta on the day, and just one of the Galaxy’s seven efforts were on target. During the 90 minute run, Ibrahimovic was held without a shot as service wasn’t there throughout.
Much credit goes to the Atlanta defense, but Schmid also believes his team needs to be more aggressive at times. Given the wealth of attacking pieces, the Galaxy should be able to generate chances, but you also need to be assertive enough to take those chances as they come.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing, but I think they were the better team tonight overall; especially in that period of time where they dominated the game and they created opportunities,” Schmid said. “I thought there was a period of time where we carried the game as well, but I don’t think that we got enough shots off in that period.
“We were looking for one extra pass all the time, and there’s times where you’ve just got to say hey we’re going to hit it.”
Making things more interesting is the return of Giovani dos Santos, although even that bit of good news comes with a bit of bad. Jonathan dos Santos was slated to start the match, but was forced out of the lineup due to an injury in warm-ups.
Integrating Giovani dos Santos is one of the major points of interest going forward. With Kamara and Ibrahimovic slotted in up top and Romain Alessandrini expected to stay out wide, the Galaxy would risk a lot by inserting dos Santos into an attacking position and leaving the midfield exposed and overrun.
On the day, Schmid says dos Santos clearly looked like a player out of rhythm on what looked like a “tough” day. However, adding another player able to create can never hurt going forward.
“Giovani [dos Santos] is also a good player,” Alessandrini said. “I like to play with Giovani. I need someone like him in the middle to play with. Hopefully next game he’ll play more. We’ll see.”
“I think it’s fantastic that Gio’s back. Of course we were unlucky that Jonathan [dos Santos] went out with injury in the warmup because he’s a good quality player,” Kamara added. “So hopefully he’s not injured for too long and hopefully he’s back for next game.”
Given recent history, the Galaxy attack is due for a bounce-back game against the New York Red Bulls next time out. The Galaxy’s most consistent aspect has been their inconsistency since the start of the campaign.
For the team to be more consistent, they’ll have to put it all together. The defense will need to hold up, the midfield will need to find the fine line of balance and the attack will need to be more dynamic than it was against Atlanta.
“I think it’s the collective. If you get collective organization, then everything else will work,” Ibrahimovic said. “We work hard. We had a good week. The outcome of the week today wasn’t the best. We need to focus and continue. Tomorrow is a new day.”
“I think we have to stick together. We are better than that,” added Alessandrini. “We have to move forward and we have to give more. It’s the beginning of the season, but we need to work hard to move forward.”