The Galaxy on a Knife Edge: At Home to NYRB

Mark my words. If the Galaxy go on to win the MLS Cup this season, it’s going to be a nail biter.

If they continue to get the results they are, playing in the same manner, it’s going to be a roller-coaster. Such results however, make for a good chance of silverware.

Should this happen, my white hair will occupy a bit more than the scattered sections of my beard it does today.  My irate effing and blinding will probably have unwittingly traumatized toddlers sitting within earshot of section 137.  We will however, talk about the dramatic 2016 title-run for years to come.

Of course, if they do continue to play in this manner, there’s probably more chance of them getting a serious hiding before long and winning bugger-all.

I could almost copy and paste the Seattle Sounders match report from last week and just change the name of the opponent.

Being at home, LA Galaxy certainly played better this time out. It was a relief to see them create a few more chances.  Despite this, the ongoing trend of last-ditch heroics counteracting a distressingly penetrable defence, ultimately prevailed.

Tonight it was Ashley Cole’s turn to make a memorable goal line clearance.  We’re certainly spreading those around the squad this season.

Much of the game was an open back-and-forth before the deadlock was broken by the New York Red Bulls (other energy drinks, livestock and red items are available) midway through the second half.  When the lead was doubled, it looked like LA had finally succumbed to their recent habit of living dangerously.

Then substitute Magee watched the RB defence whiff at a Stevie G cushioned header and calmly swept the loose ball home.  80 minutes on the clock, we were back in it.  Shortly after, Cole took advantage of a similarly badly defended cross, to equalize from a tight angle, breaking Crimson Bovine hearts in the process.

At this point, I flew into the kind of wild, undignified frenzy that actresses in “Herbal Essences” (other shampoos are available) commercials strive to approximate.  Another example of the regular season “not mattering”, I presume.

So another point haphazardly salvaged rather than competently secured.  What are we doing right and where are we going wrong?

I’d say a key component is mentality.  It’s all too easy to just dismiss emergency  clearances and flailing blocks as a deficiency of luck or finishing on the part of our opposition.  There’s a will about this team to do anything and everything on a play, until a cause is lost.  At least twice last night, that will wasn’t enough but in the end, it played it’s part in the result.

As I said about the Seattle game, we’re being fairly efficient with scoring chances.  We could certainly do with creating a few more clear-cut opportunities though.

This is where Gyasi Zardes is missed.  As inconsistent as his technical game can be (he can pluck a ball out of the air with a deft dab of the toe with one touch, then shin the ball into orbit with the next) his intelligence and movement creates space for his more skilfully proficient colleagues.

Sebastian Lleget is as skillful as anybody the Galaxy has.  However, 2015’s end product hasn’t followed him into the new season.  With that said, I feel the guy is better as a direct wing-forward than a support player. His “assist” contribution comes better in the form of set-pieces and penalties won out of opposing defenders failing to handle him, than as a provider of crosses and through-balls.  However, he sits behind Keane and Gio Dos Santos in the pecking order for such roles.

Now this latter adds to another conundrum: the Designated Players.  Keane has been a resounding success but at this point, his career has to be on borrowed time.  Gio has shown his ability in spells but hasn’t been able to deliver week-in, week-out.  I’m also concerned that he’s a little too close to Keane in terms of natural role.  I see this as a prime factor in their ongoing struggles to replicate the kind of rapport we saw with LD in the “Keanovan” era.

Steven Gerrard, though he did okay last night and played a part in Magee’s goal, has tended to be a bit of a millstone around the Galaxy’s neck when starting and playing advanced minutes.

I often feel like we’re trying to force these DP pieces into place.  While I’ve always commended Bruce Arena for not letting the stars at his disposal dictate his approach, I do suspect that we have signed DP’s that looked like no-brainers on paper (as well of course, ticket-sellers) without putting enough consideration into how they would fit into the existing framework.

Nigel De Jong has been fine when his brain is switched on and he isn’t cementing his nasty reputation with ugly fouls and even uglier suspensions.  However, he needs an immaculate disciplinary record and frankly divine performances for the rest of the season, for me to think him worth the risk of giving SG’s vacant DP slot next term.

The bottom line is that I don’t feel the Galaxy is amounting to the sum of their parts.

In terms of performance, that is.

In terms of result; like I said, if we keep grinding results out like this, we might just stumble on a trophy or two by the end of the year.


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