Current State Of The Team
With only six games in the season left, the LA Galaxy currently sit in an uncomfortable eighth place. Only four points separate second place to eighth place. With only seven teams from the Western conference qualifying for playoffs, there is little room for error, and need for improvement. LA has much to prove in these last six games and should avoid last year’s mishap of missing the playoffs.
Zlatan Ibrahimović started for the team after the start of the season last year, and even with a whopping 22 goals scored, the team couldn’t quite finish and qualify. A lack of defense plagued the team, but this year the Galaxy beefed up their defense, yet still struggle to beat teams that should be a breeze. So what gives? Why are the Galaxy so inconsistent?
Extra Games Put Extra Hurt On The Galaxy
Zlatan has been one of the most consistent players on the team; he plays a full 90 minutes and has missed very few games, he also averages a minimum of one goal per 90 minutes of play. When Zlatan doesn’t score, neither does anyone else.
For a while, the second-highest scorer on the team was defender Daniel Steres who has had a very solid season for the Galaxy, but a defender should not be the second-highest scorer on the team. Own goal fights its way to the top for most goals scored, an infamous reality that most Galaxy fans are well aware of. It is clear that defensive mistakes have caused a few losses.
The addition of Cristian Pavón has immensely helped the attack, but in reality, the Galaxy have not had a long run at consistency because the team has not played with the same squad for prolonged periods of time due to injury or international duty.
International games that are supposed to help players develop have actually hurt the team. Most notably during the Gold Cup, Jonathan Dos Santos, Uriel Antuna, and Rolf Feltscher were away. The LA Galaxy felt the hurt of missing players and had an inconsistent run during that time. Losses early in the season can come back to haunt the team at the end of the season.
Most recently, international duty left the Galaxy again without Dos Santos, Antuna, and Sebastian Lleget for practice. Dos Santos has also had extra performances in the MLS all-star game and MLS Skills Challenge. Zlatan also found himself traveling for the MLS all-star game.
Extra games are making Galaxy players miss practice and games, and for what avail? The Western conference is so close in points that missing the playoffs again for the Galaxy is a scary reality. The Galaxy play the Colorado Rapids September 11th and with every game an almost must-win, extra games jeopardize the team. Maybe the Galaxy will move up just enough to qualify and demonstrate their worth on the big stage.
Ironically, the Galaxy tend to play well when they are underdogs. During their first match-up against the Seattle Sounders, Steres got a soft foul and a red card in the first five minutes of the game. The Galaxy played with 10 men for 84 minutes, an exhausting task for the players, but Zlatan scored twice to keep the Galaxy alive. Although the game eventually ended in a tie due to an accidental haunting own goal, the team played well, fought the entire game, and dominated. Most fans were pleased with the overall performance of the team. The Galaxy should have easily beaten Seattle in their second match with a full team, but lost by one goal again due to a defensive error. The Galaxy scored three goals but lost by one goal, which bumped them into seventh place.
LA has also performed very well against LAFC, a team that not many teams have beaten this year. Many people believed that LAFC would beat the Galaxy, but LAFC has yet to beat the original team of Los Angeles.
Zlatan scored a hat trick in the first matchup against them and backed up his claims that he is the best striker in the MLS. During the second game against LAFC, the Galaxy tied, dominating in the first half and slipping in the second half. Yet despite some mistakes, they performed well.
It seems that the Galaxy perform well against stronger teams and poor against weaker teams. So what will it take for the Galaxy to perform to their potential and qualify for playoffs? Maybe the fear of elimination will provide enough motivation for the team to fight and come in as unsuspected contenders. With the return of Romain Alessandrini, who was out all season due to a meniscus injury, the Galaxy playoff hopes are alive and well.
A couple of years of not qualifying for playoffs isn’t new to the team. In 2006-2008 the team did not qualify for the playoffs; yet they came back to qualify in 2009 and 2010 and won the cup in 2011, 2012, and 2014. The LA Galaxy have to live up to its rich tradition of winning and add a sixth championship to the list. For now, the Galaxy keeps their fan base humble.